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Dear Kay,

Some of the things in the MDK Holiday Shop were a group effort—we would talk about an idea, and everybody contributed to making the idea come together.

In one case, however, the team totally indulged my fierce and overwhelming desire to offer a window bird feeder in this year’s Holiday Shop.

I’m not a fancy birdwatcher. I don’t even own binoculars. But after years of feeding the birds outside my window, I am certain that the act of feeding birds is a gift not to the birds but to the person feeding them.

It’s a connection. It’s a gift to me to walk outside, scoop sunflower seeds into the feeders, and know that in short order, I’ll have the extraordinary opportunity to see a parade of wrens, doves, finches, blue jays, towhees, titmice, robins, bluebirds, mockingbirds, chickadees, cardinals, and woodpeckers.

We have only a few of our simple bird feeders left in the Sale, so if they’re gone, don’t let that stop you from trying out this idea. It has the potential to change your life, truly.

These photos of a hungry hungry mockingbird come from Hannah Jones, whose MDK Window Bird Feeder is the talk of the town amongst the feathered set.

For all of you who know what I’m talking about, what’s the most surprising bird you’ve seen at your feeder?



PS You can find the whole stupendous Year-End Sale right here.


  • Evening Grosbeaks!
    Especially during this time of staying home most of the time, my feeders provide a social life for me. Such a joy to have bird companionship!

  • Indigo bunting on a thistle seed feeder. The feathers’ blue-purple sheen was such a treat.

    • Indigo Bunting would be a great name for a sweater or blanket pattern!

  • All the other birds are chased away by the fluffy tailed gray squirrel bird on my feeder.

    • We had the same issue…until…I heard about adding cayenne pepper to bird seed. Doesn’t harm aviary but squirrels and voles and mice etc don’t like the taste. I get the restaurant size shaker at the giant club store..or buy the cheapest at the grocery store on the bottom shelf. I usually add about a quarter to a third of a cup per 5 pound bag. Shake it into the bag, reseal it, and flip the bag sideways and watch it mix in. The longer it sets in the seed, the more potent.
      We had really aggressive squirrels that would battle the 3 gray jays at the feeder. And we live in a forested area that’s a buffet for all creatures. The feeder is for the chickadees as the don’t travel outside a one acre area, eat darn near their body weight daily and Alaska weather is harsh for our feathered friends. We also load it up during migration time for our visiting birds. We sprinkle the cayenne on the suet blocks too.
      Squirrels are g.o.n.e. from the feeder!
      Cayenne pepper is amazing. You can buy bird seed and suet with it already mixed in.

    • Love feeding the birds and the variety of visitors. Unfortunately this year we had new regulars – Amber rats and mice. Perhaps cute but most unwelcome. Forced to discontinue feeding. We. Have large trees surrounding our small yard. Hope spring brings back the aviary.

  • Nothing unusual. Like you, we get a wide variety of birds at our feeders. It is amazing to look out and see 6 or more male cardinals waiting their turn. The one window bird feeder we have is at my office room’s front window. Mabel the cat thoroughly enjoys that one!

  • Last spring, I hosted 5+ pairs of bluebirds for several weeks. The color is indescribable. They were mesmerizing. I surely hope they make a colorful return this year. Hopeful anticipation abounds.

  • This year I was surprised by a red crossbill!!

  • Baltimore Orioles winter in my area and I put out dishes of grape jelly for them. They travel in flocks and the swirl of orange and yellow and black when they come in to feed is amazing.

  • Wild turkey come to our feeder. The amazing color that shimmers under the dull brown caught me by surprise. They look so dull from a distance, but are in fact quite beautiful up close.

  • I do not feed, per se. I live in the middle of a small commercial orchard. There are a group of Robin that stop off for a bit during their migration. Some of the males are albino, with pale pink chests.

  • I love my birds. Some more than others I admit. The years I see the red breasted nuthatches are magical.

  • The downy woodpeckers…..small with red heads, love one of our three feeders and ignore two identical ones. A pileated woodpecker tried it, but they are very big and heavy birds and the spring loaded screen shut down, so it gave up and continues to peck for insects in a dead tree nearby.

    We love our feeders, but have to restrict feeding so only have them up Dec. 1- April 1 as we do not want to encourage the bears!

  • I will be getting one of these window feeders BUT last year during the BIG snow in the Memphis area my feeders just would not suffice. It even became difficult to find seed. I had so many birds I resorted to pouring ‘troughs’ of feed on top of the snow some 4’ long several times a day. Thousands of big and little birds dined for about 4-5 days. When the snow finally melted they disappeared which proves they need our help when the weather gets bad!!

  • We have a Northern Flicker that comes regularly. We’ve had single visits from a Towhee, Red bellied woodpecker (not appropriately named for it has a pale, blush colored belly and FLAMING pink head) and the occasional redwing blackbird. We get hawks who think it’s a buffet, they’re fun to watch too.

  • I was absolutely thrilled to see the window feeder in your catalog! If I didn’t already own one (ok, really 2), I would have purchased. I ♥️ when my passions come together – I am an ecologist, birder and life long maker – new to knitting. I look forward to reading the daily emails with my coffee every morning – I’ve learned so much about ! What you describe is called ‘Ornitherapy’ – there’s a new book about it by Holly Merker – I bet you would really enjoy it!

    • Thanks, Laura! I’m always looking for new bird books, and I just ordered Ornitherapy through the Crossley website!

  • We’ll occasionally get a red tailed hawk or Cooper’s hawk hanging around to check out what’s at the feeders.

  • A rufus sided towhee

  • I saw an indigo bunting once.
    Every spring the big thrill is seeing the first male rose breasted grosbeak the females are pretty also). Some local friends and I email alerts to each other when they arrive.

    • We have a pair of bald eagles that love our dead ash tree next to our lake. We love to watch the male dive down to catch a fish. “Our” great blue herons are also wonderful to watch, tiptoeing patiently in the shallow water.

  • Sharp shinned hawk! It had come trying to catch the birds that were waiting in the hedge for their turn at the feeder. I noticed it because of my cat’s intent gaze. (That was the day I learned that if the cat is fixated on something, it’s worth investigating!)

  • I love the wood peckers! I have Downys, Hairys, Yellow Bellied Sapsuckers and Piliated

  • Pileated Woodpecker! Those guys are a blast from the prehistoric past. We hear them. We have fleeting glimpses of them from time to time, but I didn’t expect to see one STANDING on the deck rail and reaching up to a suet block too high for squirrels. He ate the whole thing in two gulps, then knocked a chunk out of the edge of the deck rail expressing his disgust at such a small meal.

  • Our feeders often host deer. It is incredible to see a deer standing under a tube type feeder, patiently using his tongue to get seed from the small opening. Three deer often show up at dusk and we delight in watching them. During the day we delight in watching the squirrels’ antics as they raid the feeders. The birds do manage to feed too, especially from the suet which is safe from the deer and squirrels. This is our cheap entertainment during our first winter in MN.

  • Just once, a Cape May Warbler, a migrant here.

  • Pileated woodpecker. But also eastern bluebirds, which lift my heart every time.

  • A Northern Parula! Two years ago. Didn’t have any idea what it was until I grabbed my field guide.

    • We get a Cooper’s hawk hanging out in our birdbath for an hour or more quite often. Otherwise, it’s hummingbird feeders galore and suet cakes. All from my kitchen window. Best view in the house!

  • My brother in Texas is feeding an albino cardinal.

  • One morning there were no birds at the full feeders early in the morning. Most unusual. Later a large raptor perched on our deck railing and stayed long enough for me to snap a photo as he surveyed the yard. A few hours after all our usual birds returned: sparrows, juncos, some cardinals and blue jays. We also feed a couple of squirrel families who choose to munch on mixed birdseed and sunflower seeds.

    • And doves, lots of dove couples and families.

      • I’m lucky to live where we have painted buntings all spring and summer. They have their own feeder and a bath they share with the cardinals and Carolina wren.

  • We have Cooper hawks and red-tailed hawks regularly (they know that there’s often lunch to be found near the feeders). There’s also three pairs of red-bellied woodpeckers and some hairy woodpeckers. I suspect we get downys, too, but they blend in with the rest of the small birds. We have eastern bluebirds and robins who winter over, and the occasional indigo bunting. Our favorite thing to watch is when the small flock of blue jays (10-12) fills the tree, waiting for their turn at the feeder – swoop down, get a sunflower seed, take it back to the tree, eat it, wait for an opening. The cardinals do the same thing at the platform feeder. The cats enjoy this immensely.

  • Believe it or not the most surprising birds I have seen at my feeder was a pair of crows last winter. In 40 years of having a bird feeder I have never seen them use it before although there have always been crows in the area.

    • Every few years a crow will figure out a way to land crossways in our hopper feeder to eat. Other crows will copy it and for a year or two we will have crows at that feeder sometimes. Then the behavior dies out for several years until it starts up again. Fascinating birds!

  • I like them all except the hoards of starlings & red-winged blackbirds that come spring will drive off the other birds & empty the feeders! But the more unusual feeder birds (for our house in the NYS Finger Lakes) have been a one-off white-winged crossbill, two different red-headed woodpeckers over the years, and occasional fox sparrows and white crowned sparrows who hang out for several days and then move on. In finch invasion years we have redpolls and pine siskins. Migrating warblers love our yard – lots of oak trees with insects for them to glean – but have yet to see one on our feeders. Have to agree that the indigo buntings, rose-breasted grosbeaks, and Baltimore orioles are spectacular harbingers of spring each year!

  • I bought this as a gift for my wonderful but difficult to buy for sister and she declared it “the best gift ever!”

  • What a thrill to blend two of my two favorite things: knitting and birds! Our most amazing visitor to the open, flat tray feeder on our deck was a gray fox, who jumped up on the top of the deck railing and helped himself to the sunflower seeds!

  • I had a window-mounted hummingbird feeder right next to my little dining table when I lived in a second-floor apartment. Plenty of action! Hummingbirds are territorial, and the pair that claimed this feeder would chase off all interlopers. They’d drop by for several meals a day and hang out in the tall shrub next to the window, resting and making sure that no other hummingbirds tried to sneak in on their beverage bar. The most remarkable moment came one day when I had taken the feeder bowl inside to clean and refill it – the male flew through the open window into my apartment looking for it!

    • I am the same way about a good bar. TELL NO ONE.

      • It would be so much more fun to go with company!

      • Bahaha! Right there with you!

  • Maybe next year you can add a small hanging bird bath to go along with the window feeder. Birds really need water too. And clean those bird feeders and bath with a good scrub and a mild bleach solution at least once a week to prevent avian diseases. Talk about prehistoric visitors we have a Roadrunner that comes frequently to our bird bath and we have had near 100 species of birds at our feeders over the past 30 years. Texas is very birdie! However I’d love to have a Pileated Woodpecker show up! Project FeederWatch through Cornell is fun to do and coming up in February! Oh I see an Orange-crowned warbler here now! Making homemade suet is easy and they love it! Knitting and bird watching builds eye hand coordination! Have fun everyone!

  • Road runner – but then I live in New Mexico. And he’s a daily visitor. Loves those meal worms.

  • Not actually at the feeder, but in my backyard once I watched a red tailed hawk do battle with a bald eagle. Pretty dramatic! Who knew birds could fly upside down? The hawk won, it was defending its nest, so had a bit more on the line I think.

  • Turkeys (wild) during a very cold winter. They wait under the feeder for another bird to knock some off.

  • My West Coast husband and I are with our daughter and her family in New England. It is a joy to see Cardinals and Eastern Blue Jays. At home, I love Goldfinches and eagerly wait to see if the Ospreys come back to their nesting site down the lane.

  • We’ve had feeders for over 20 yrs. We have several coveys of California quail and they’re a real hoot. I would be ecstatic to have a cardinal, but they’re not in Oregon. I was pleasantly surprised to have goldfinches arrive this year and they’re sticking around.

  • Out here west of Portland, OR we’ve had Gray Jays at our feeders this winter. Strange to see them alongside the Stellar Jays!

  • I’ve been feeding the birds for over 50 years, I’m 71. They give me so much joy all year round. Maybe the most fun was the first time the humming birds brought their babies to the nectar to feed. That is what first comes to mind, but there has been numerous surprises.

    • Me too! I just turned 71, and in a way I’ve always fed birds since my mother did (and, at 94, still does). Most recent unusual bird was a Black-backed Woodpecker, not common here in southern Maine. But I’m thrilled by too many to list!

  • What comes to mind for me is not so much the birds that I have seen but some special folks who were dedicated to feeding them.

    One person was my grandma, who would collect scraps of stale bread into a bag and when the bag was full she did something with them. I think she put water or broth or something to plump them up and then she would put them out in her backyard for the birds. The other person was this handsome guy I once knew who had dreamy brown eyes and would lovingly collect scraps of bread to take to the park to feed the birds.


  • When I lived in NewMx., a quail family was my favorite. A “scout” would hop up on my cinderblock wall, check things out, give the all clear chirps & then a small horde would swarm over the wall. They were so stinking cute. And now in Texas, the mockingbirds that will swoop down & teach you what’s what……..

  • i shouldn’t be surprised that feeding birds also lead to feeding hawks that are attracted to all the birds at our feeders. One morning we witness a sharp shin/cooper snatch a female cardinal off the feeder and later that day a different sharp shin/cooper took a downy off a feeder. Our local hawks ate well that day. On a brighter note it was a thrill to see five ! male rose breasted grosbeaks at the feeder one day last spring and having a trio of white crown sparrows hang out for several weeks before heading to the far north.

  • Rosy breasted grosbeak! Beautiful birds – I was stunned the first time I saw them when we moved to our current residence 25 years ago. They come every year now on their way north,

  • Bear!
    Unfortunately my bird feeder days are over. A bear discovered my lone feeder this past year and I now have to be content watching the birds nature provides without the enticement of a feeder. Thankfully they (the birds not the bears!) are many.

  • We live in southern New Hampshire and have feeders that attach to our window and a big hopper on a pole not far from the same window. We have many different kinds of birds. My favorite are the eastern bluebirds, Carolina wrens, and the cardinals (I like the water-colored look of the females). It’s funny how the cardinal pair are the first to arrive in the morning and the last to leave at night. I’ve always wondered why. A few years back we had a bear take out our pole feeder. Now, I don’t put suet in until December and I remove it come March. No problems since then, but there is always a risk, I guess. Come spring, we have a barred owl family nesting in our yard. Early summer evenings feature the screeching calls and swooping flights across our back yard. These things feed my soul.

  • A female ruffled grouse that was larger than the feeder! She’d snack and then nestle into the pot where the begonias live in spring/summer. The constantly thumping male grouse would never look for her on the deck.

  • My husband is an avid bird-watcher and I picked up the hobby from him. We have a list of all species we’ve seen on our 5-acre upstate New York property, and it’s over a hundred species. The best bird on the feeder was the Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker on the suet. (Also my favorite name ever.) We had a bald eagle fly over once, but the most exciting was the time my husband spotted a bittern hiding in the long grass next to the pond.

  • I have the same window feeder as well as a seed feeder and a thistle feeder. We do see a lot of birds but it was exciting to see a towhee kind of recently. I love the hummingbirds too at their feeder. My favorites might be the flickers although they are ground feeders. We reloaded during the recent snow in Seattle and the wee birbs are happy! I suppose the next level will be getting a heater for the birdbath. 🙂

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