1. Backyard birds have different feeding requirements. Different styles of feeders will attract different and a larger variety of birds to your backyard. These are the basic bird feeders for an all around good backyard bird feeding program:
- Seed Tube Bird Feeder: Excellent bird feeder for black oil sunflower seed, sunflower hearts, safflower seed or any nut based mix. This is primarily a feeder for attracting a variety of small birds.
- Nyjer Thistle Tube Bird Feeder: Uses only fresh thistle seed or a finch mix of thistle seed and fine sunflower chips. Primarily attracts birds of the finch family such as goldfinch, house finch, purple finch and pine siskin.
- Hopper Bird Feeders: Great for using black oil sunflower seed, sunflower hearts, safflower seed or any nut based mix. This is a good all around feeder for attracting both large and small birds.
- Platform Bird Feeders: A versitle feeder for using black oil sunflower seed, sunflower hearts, safflower seed or any nut based mix. A good feeder for un-shelled peanuts, fruits, raisins and meal worms. This feeder does not exclude any birds.
- Ground Feeders: An excellent bird feeder for general wild bird mixes, white proso millet or safflower seed. A perfect feeder for ground foraging birds such as native sparrows, juncos and doves. Keeps seed off the ground and reduces spoilage.
- Suet Bird Feeders: Use with either commercial or meat market suets. Placed on or near a tree for attracting nuthatches, brown creepers, chickadees and a variety of woodpeckers.
2. General wild bird mixes are best placed on or near the ground for ground feeding birds. Reserve elevated feeders for the nuts or nut based mixes. Avoid general bird mixes containing Milo , red millet or wheat. These are filler seeds which bulk up the weight thus lowering the price. While game birds and house sparrows consume these products they are not desired by song birds. Read the label for key ingredients.
3. Thistle seed has an extremely short shelf life of 3 to 5 months. This is the result of heat sterilization of the imported seed by the USDA. This method is used to avoid introducing non-native plants into North America . A newly purchased bag of thistle seed does not guarantee freshness since many merchants’ stock large quantities for long periods of time. Songbirds will reject feeders containing old thistle seed which is
4. To deter squirrels and grackles, use safflower seed by itself in any of the bird feeders with the exception of thistle tube feeders. Safflower seed is attractive to cardinals, house finch, chickadees, doves and other birds, yet grackles rarely feed on it if at all. A feeder filled with safflower seed may be hung in a tree next to a squirrels nest and they will totally ignore it. Make it a part of you feeding program. It may take up to a week for your birds to become accustomed to safflower seed if it has never been offered to them before.
5. Although winter is the traditional bird feeding period, many people have established year round bird feeding programs. Natural foods become scarce after winter until a new crop of seeds and berries ripen in late summer. Wildlife biologists have found that birds nest earlier, quicker, and have more successful nestings when supplemental foods are offered. This is due to less time spent foraging and competing for low food reserves after winter. For example: Woodpeckers during the nesting season eat more suet between March and July than all winter long. You can attract a large variety of birds through-out the year by establishing a year round bird feeding program.
6. Providing a fresh source of water for birds is an important feature during all seasons. Puddles of rain water contain pollutants and toxins that are harmful to birds. In winter, open water is a rare commodity. Searching for water in frigid temperatures can waste precious energy needed to get birds through cold winter nights. And clean feathers provide valuable insulation to help keep them warm. Motion created in water, either by a waterfall or a dripper, attracts high flying birds, and is heard at a great distance. the primary cause in failing to attract birds to a thistle feeder. Inquire about the freshness of the seed you purchase, or purchase from reputable suppliers.