Feeding Birds

From fall through winter, birds appreciate any supplemental food and fresh water you may provide. Generally, feeding can stop in summer, but continuing will encourage birds to nest and raise their young in your yard. When feeding birds, keep in mind birds feed at different levels. Some birds prefer to eat off the ground. While others will eat off a tabletop, hanging feeders, or from feeders placed in tree trunks. Food should be placed near shrubs or trees to provide them with the security of a nearby perch to escape to. Place small amounts of food on the ground to see what is actually eaten each day. You want to avoid extra food from rotting and making the birds sick.

Use a good-quality birdseed mixture that attracts the widest variety of birds.

The most widely accepted seed is sunflower seeds. There are three types of sunflower seed: black oil, striped or sunflower hearts. Black oil seed provide more nutrition than striped seeds. Striped have large hulls and make quite a mess. The hulls can be toxic to grass and some plants. Sunflower hearts leave no mess as the birds at them all, but are the most expensive. Sunflower seeds should be place in a hanging or post feeder. Many types of birds eat sunflowers, such as, Chickadees, Nuthatches, Tufted Titmice, Mourning Doves, Woodpeckers, Bluejays, etc.

Niger seed should be placed in a tube feeder or mesh bag hung from a wire or tree branch. This seed requires a special thistle feeder with small holes that only allow the small seeds through. Finches, Chickadees, and Juncos all eat Niger or Thistle seed.

Cracked corn is best offered to ground feeders. It is eaten by Mourning Doves, Bluejays, Juncos, and Sparrows.

Wild Bird Seed Mixes often contain red millet which is not a popular food for any birds around here.

Beef suet usually can be purchased from your butcher. Place it in a mesh bag or wire basket and hang from the side of a tree or post. Stop feeding suet in the summer as it will go rancid from the heat.

During the warmer months, you can also serve sugar water (4 parts water to 1 part sugar). Avoid putting in red dye as this can be harmful to birds.