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FEEDING WILD BIRDS
By Charles Kennedy

The joy of feeding birds is open to everyone and is easy and successful if certain guidelines are followed. Birds need food, water, shelter and a place to raise their young. If you provide these basics, birds will come to your yard in large numbers. Use the following information to help you meet these basic needs of birds. You will be rewarded with many pleasure filled hours. Birds will become a wonderful asset in your yard and in your life.

Page Quick Links
Basic Bird Feeders - Sunflower Seed Feeder - Ground Feeder - Suet Feeder - Bird Pie - Water
Feeder Location
- Additional Tips
Hummingbirds - Common Feeder Birds - Top of Page

BASIC BIRD FEEDERS

To attract a great variety of birds you must offer a variety of food. A bird feeding program that will attract a large number of birds throughout the year includes the following four things.

  1. A hanging (or pole-mounted) feeder stocked with sunflower seeds.
  2. A ground or tray feeder stocked with cracked corn and mixed seed.
  3. A feeder stocked with suet or a suet substitute.
  4. Water.

    SUNFLOWER SEED FEEDER

You should have a hanging or pole-mounted feeder which contains nothing but sunflower seeds. Sunflower seeds are the number 1 choice of many birds. More than 20 species will visit a sunflower seed feeder.

There are three types of sunflower seed; gray-striped, black-striped, and black oil. Birds will eat all three types but prefer the smallest, the black oil sunflower seed. It has a thinner shell which allows the smaller birds to crack it, and packs a lot of energy because of the high oil content. Hulled sunflower seed can be purchased but the price is rather high.

There are several types of hanging and pole mounted feeders that will work well with sunflower seeds. These include:

1. Glass tube with perches.
2. Hanging feeder with a baffle.
3. House-hopper type feeder.
4. Window mounted feeders.

Regardless of the type feeder you choose, it should have these features.

1. It should be easy to fill.
2. It should be easy to clean.
3. It should hold a fairly large quantity of seed.
4. It should keep the seed dry.

Page Quick Links
Basic Bird Feeders - Sunflower Seed Feeder - Ground Feeder - Suet Feeder - Bird Pie - Water
Feeder Location
- Additional Tips
Hummingbirds - Common Feeder Birds - Top of Page

GROUND FEEDER

A ground feeder can be created by spreading seed about directly on the ground, or placing it on a slightly elevated tray type feeder. The tray can be nothing more than a board nailed on top of a short pole. Cracked corn and mixed bird seed should be used to stock the ground feeder.

There are several good reasons for using a ground feeder.

1. Many birds prefer feeding on or near the ground. These include cardinals, juncos, and towhees.

2. Seed scattered over a large area allows entire flocks of birds to feed at one time.

3. The seed on the ground may divert squirrels and larger birds away from your sunflower  feeder.

SUET FEEDER

Suet cakes will attract the insect eating birds to your feeder. Woodpeckers, bluebirds, and nuthatches are among the suet eaters. Suet should be fed only in the colder months since it melts in hot weather. Suet cakes are produced commercially, and are a lot less trouble than making your own. Suet can be placed in a wire "suet cage" or in an onion bag. A small log with holes bored in it also makes a good suet container. Pine cones dipped in melted suet work well and suet can be placed in crevices in trees.

BIRD PIE

If suet seem to be to much of a bother for you, try making bird pies. The following recipe can be prepared in a few minutes, and the mixture keeps well enough to feed the entire year. All the birds that eat suet will feed on this mix, as well as most of the seed eaters.

Combine equal parts of peanut butter and solid shortening (Crisco) and melt it. A microwave will do this in about a minute. Stir in corn meal until the mixture starts to thicken. Add some birdseed or cracked corn and add additional meal until a dough ball is formed. The mixture can be shaped into small cakes and placed on a tray feeder or put in a suet cage. It also works well in a suet log or smeared on the trunks of trees. Extra bird pies can be kept in the refrigerator until needed.

Page Quick Links
Basic Bird Feeders - Sunflower Seed Feeder - Ground Feeder - Suet Feeder - Bird Pie - Water
Feeder Location
- Additional Tips
Hummingbirds - Common Feeder Birds - Top of Page

WATER

Birds need water for drinking and bathing. A bird feeding plan is not complete without a bird bath. Commercially made birdbaths are available at many garden centers; an inverted garbage can lid works also. The birdbath will be more attractive to birds if it has water dripping into it. A water hose can be used, or a bucket with a small hole in the bottom can be suspended above the bath. You will probably attract more birds in late summer and early fall with water than with food.

FEEDER LOCATION

You should put the feeder where you can see it! One of the biggest joys of feeding birds is watching their behavior and learning their habits. Put the feeder near the windows you look out of the most often. Place it as close to the house as possible. Birds like to feed near cover. If there are no plants near the location you would like to place the feeder, a brush pile will serve until you can plant shrubs. Bird feeder hangers are available in many configurations. A free standing hanger called a shepherd's hook makes it possible to place your feeder almost anywhere.

How soon the birds will start to use your feeder depends on a number of things such as where you live, how many birds live in your neighborhood, and whether they are familiar with feeders. Be patient, they will soon arrive.

Page Quick Links
Basic Bird Feeders - Sunflower Seed Feeder - Ground Feeder - Suet Feeder - Bird Pie - Water
Feeder Location
- Additional Tips
Hummingbirds - Common Feeder Birds - Top of Page

ADDITIONAL TIPS

Buy birdseed in large quantities, its cheaper this way. Use seed mixes that are mostly sunflower seed, cracked corn, and white millet. Birds, especially the smaller ones, do not seem to care much for milo and wheat.

Clean your feeders often with hot water and detergent.

Put up several feeders so squirrels and large birds can’t take over.

Try adding fruits and nuts to your bird menu.

Get a good bird identification book and a pair of binoculars so you can identify the birds at your feeder. Keep a feeder list.

HUMMINGBIRDS

Hummingbirds are easy to attract, and are a great delight to watch. Hang several feeders, plant some good "hummer" flowers, and enjoy one of the most amazing creatures on earth. Keep your feeders clean and stocked with fresh solution consisting of 4 parts water to 1 part sugar.

To learn more about hummingbirds see the article 
"Glittering Garments of the Rainbow".  click here

FEEDER BIRDS

Species That Are The Most Common 
At Feeders In The Eastern U.S.

Cardinal - Chickadee - Cowbird - Crow - Evening Grosbeak
House Finch
- Purple Finch - Goldfinch - Grackle - Sparrows
Jays - Junco - Mockingbird - Mourning Dove - Nuthatches
Pigeon - Pine Siskin - Red-winged Blackbird- Starling
Titmouse -Towhee - Brown Thrasher -Woodpeckers

Page Quick Links
Basic Bird Feeders - Sunflower Seed Feeder - Ground Feeder - Suet Feeder - Bird Pie - Water
Feeder Location
- Additional Tips
Hummingbirds - Common Feeder Birds - Top of Page

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