These are actually "approach branches". The birds that come to my feeders prefer to scope things out first and bare branches are the perfect perch. The Silver Maple in the center is suffering from several years of drought and the bare limbs are a typical reaction. Yeah, I should get it trimmed, that'll be the first thing I do when I have an extra $400 for the tree man. The bare branches from the Honey Locust on the right are intentionally left on the tree, otherwise I'd need a skyhook about 15 feet long to hang the feeders. So no matter how it looks, it's a perfect set-up for our feathered friends. They can check out whether they have a clear shot at the feeder or if they have to wait till the squirrels are done gorging themselves. If the coast is clear the House finches and Black-capped Chickadees will perch on the sunflower seed feeder until the squirrel or a bunch of bullying Grackles dislodge them.
The peanut feeder is an old nesting shelf with a missing roof meant for the Robins but it's gotten more use as a hangout for the "big guys", mostly bluejays and magpies, than it ever did as a nursery The robins preferred the downspouts. Magpies, affectionately known to some as "scavengers in tuxedos", are making a comeback in the Rockies after their numbers were decimated by West Nile Virus a few years ago. There are those who don't like jays and magpies because of their nest-robbing tendencies but I subscribe to the "nature, red in tooth and claw" sentiment put forth by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. A far cry from the anthropomorphic "Old Mother West Wind" stories I devoured as a kid. But occasionally in the late evening I swear I see Reddy Fox slinking around the backyard heading for the Old Briar Patch, with Hooty the Owl eyeing him from an approach branch high above.