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  Bird Feeders

It's fun attracting common and rarer birds with feeders, but it
can also be messy, unhygienic and unhealthy for birds if some practices aren't followed. Some birds follow strict feeding regimes, some feed on almost anything, most are messy and some harass other birds. You can feed birds without creating conditions that cause some of these problems.

  Wild Bird Feeder Plans            Castle Bird Feeder Plans  

Tube feeders with approximately 1" diameter holes and inside hoods are usually too small for a squirrel to access seeds and thistle feeder openings are almost as small as the seeds and inaccessible to squirrels, but squirrels may damage feeders with their teeth.

Nyjer Feeders attract the most beautiful goldfinches and many other small songbirds such as chickadees and redpolls.

Hopper feeders are a practical design usually with open tops covered by a hinged roof and narrow bottoms with slots that spill small amounts of seed on to narrow trays as birds feed.  Very efficient, large capacity, usually keeps seed dry.

Window Feeders are great for viewing from the comfort of your home, for children and adults.  Everyone just loves watching birds close up from a kitchen table with their morning cereal or coffee.  You have to have one.

Platform & Fly Thru Feeders are good for ground feeding birds as well as song birds that like hanging feeders.  Select feeders that shelter the seed from rain.

Hang Hummingbird Feeders in your patio and watch them hover while they feed.  Humming bird feeder shapes and colors are designed to attract hummingbirds so don't add colored dye as it may be toxic and follow mixing instructions.

Hang Hummingbird and Oriole Feeders where ants have difficult access or simply will not find.  Mix 1 part sugar to 4 parts water, but do not use food coloring and honey.

Orioles love nectar, fruit, jams and jellies.  Secure orange or apple halves or a small bunches of grapes to skewers.

Attract bluebirds, tanagers, mockingbirds, catbirds, robins and wrens with Bluebird Feeders (Meal Worm Feeders). Keep them out of the sun and rain.

Suet Feeders are a non-messy way to provide high energy animal fat and they attract a special group of birds: woodpeckers, chickadees, nuthatches, brown creepers, wrens, cardinals and bluejays

Squirrel Proof Feeders are a necessity if squirrels chase birds away, make messes and waste all of your seed.

Sunflower Seeds

Black oil sunflower seeds are a premium feed.  They are a high energy and nutritious food source packed with protein and fat and leave less waste than some other seeds.  A wide range of birds eat sunflower seeds.  Gold Finches, House Finches, Purple Finches, Cardinals, Blue Jays, Scrub Jays, Chickadees, Nuthatches, Titmice, Mourning Doves, Buntings, Grosbeaks, Juncos and Sparrows eat sunflower seeds.


Thistle Seeds, Nyjer 

Another highly nutritious seed rich in protein and fat.  Goldfinches, House Finches, Purple Finches, Redpolls, Siskins, Juncos, and even Mourning Doves eat thistle seeds. Nyjer Feeders and Nyjer Stockings with tiny openings limit which birds can feed and squirrels supposedly do not like thistle (nyjer).  

Suet and Block Feeders

Suet (animal fat) and Peanut Butter, rich in proteins and fat, provide needed energy for wintering birds like Woodpeckers, Nuthatches, Chickadees and Titmice.  Most birds will eat some suet.

Sold in cakes and bars, suet and bird seed blocks make feeding simple and easy.  Ask for some animal fat to feed the birds (in winter) at your meat market.  Most likely they're already familiar.  Or you can make your own by mixing animal fat or vegetable oil with bird feed, peanut butter and fruit.  Feed it in winter, the fat tends to become rancid in warm weather.  Or skip the fat and oil and just use peanut butter in warm weather.

  Peanut Butter

Peanut Butter contains Protein, Fat and Oil.   Woodpeckers, Nuthatches, Chickadees, Titmice, Mourning Doves, Song Sparrows, White-crowned Sparrows, White-throated Sparrows and House Finches will eat peanut butter.


Safflower Seed

High in protein and fat.  Cardinals, Mourning Doves, Finches, Grosbeaks, Jays, Chickadees, Nuthatches, Titmice, Song Sparrows, and White-throated Sparrows like Safflower.


Another popular mixed blend filler.   House Finches, Mourning Doves, Cardinals, Buntings, Juncos, Towhees, Blackbirds, Pigeons, Song Sparrows, White-crowned and White-throated Sparrows, and English Sparrows like Millet.  The white variety is preferred


Bluejays, Mourning Doves, Juncos, Blackbirds and Sparrows eat corn.  Upland game birds like Pheasants, Turkeys, Partridge and Grouse love corn.   Pigeons, Starlings, cowbirds and squirrels like corn.

Mixed Seeds

Good mixed seed will contain some of most of the above quality seeds.  Quality of mixed seed can vary.   If birds select only some seeds in a blend and waste the rest, try another mix.  


Shelled Peanuts and Whole Peanuts in the shell (always use unsalted nuts) are highly nutritious for the birds that can eat them.  Bluejays, Scrub Jays, House Finches, Cardinals, Woodpeckers, Magpies, Chickadees, Nuthatches, Titmice, White-crowned and White-throated Sparrows eat peanuts.  Most birds can shell whole (unshelled) peanuts, with varying degrees of effort.  Squirrels love peanuts.


Migrating birds and early arrivals regularly encounter shortages of their usual feeding sources and readily substitute fruit if it's made available for them. Add dried blueberries and dried cranberries to increase the variety of birds in your yard.  Cardinals, robins, orioles, thrashers, catbirds, waxwings, warblers, tanagers, and flickers will eat blueberries and cranberries.

See Gilbert H. Trafton's Bird Fruit-Tree Chart based on U.S. Department of Agriculture studies of shrubs and trees that you can plant to provide fruit, nectar, seeds and cover.



Bluebirds, Wrens, Robins, Cardinals, Woodpeckers, Chickadees, Nuthatches and Titmice eat mealworms.  Offer in a dry cup in the shade.

If you have the stomach, you can raise mealworms (Tenebrio molitor).  In a plastic bucket or pan with a screen mesh cover for plenty of air, place oat bran a few inches deep.  Place mealworms in the pan.  Partially bury a halved apple, cut side down in the oat bran for moisture and replace weekly.  Rip paper grocery bags into pieces and place several layers over the oat bran. Keep at about 60-65 degrees. The mealworms will grow into adult beetles, lay eggs, and the eggs will turn into yummy little mealworms which grow to the size you purchased.


Nectar Producing Plants for Hummingbirds

Trumpet Honeysuckle, Trumpet Vines, Honeysuckle, Monarda, Coral Bells, Salvia, Fuchsia, Petunia, Corydalis, Impatiens, Firecracker, Lillies, Belladonnas,  Hibiscus,   Lantanna, Snapdragon, Ivy Geraniums, Cigar Plant, Quince...there are many.

Red seems to be their favorite color, but other colored flowers work too.  Plant large thick gardens.  They visit lots of flowers to get a little nectar.  Hummingbirds will also eat insects visiting and living in the plants and even make nests from spider webs.  Plant nectar producing flowers in window boxes and view them from your home.

Birds Eating From Your Hand

Chickadees and Red-breasted Nuthatches will likely eat from your hand.  Other birds documented to have eaten from people's hands include White-breasted Nuthatches, Tufted Titmice, Bluebirds, Evening Grosbeaks, Redpolls, Jays, and Chipping Sparrows.  Place feed in a cup formed by your palm upturned and fingers pointing up for a perch.  Birds see well from a distance easily notice you are holding feed.

Water for Birds

Birds need fresh water.  Extremely cold or dry weather may be when water is needed the most.  They love to bathe and people love to watch.  Even the sound of running water will attract birds. And bathing birds attract people!

Over Feeding

Moderation. Too many birds together is unnatural, unsanitary, wasteful and dangerous to birds, some species more than others.  Viewing only a few birds is more appealing than a bunch of noisy fighting birds. 

Cut them off occasionally.  They will find feed elsewhere and come back when you feed again.  It will make them less dependent, more resourceful, smarter, and healthier.

Keep It Clean

The same nutritious ingredients necessary for life - carbs, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and water - are the same ingredients that promote bacteria, mold, mildew, intestinal illness, disease and death.  One who attracts flocks to unkempt, unsanitary feeders is not a friend of birds. 

Rotting food attracts mice, rats, insects and some of the strangest bugs you've ever seen.  Spilled feed encourages rodents to move into your yard. Rodents in your yard move into your home. 

Keep it dry.  If a feeder can't keep feed dry, throw it away.   Exchange feeders and give them a rest.  Clean and dry feeders and let them sit.  Ultraviolet rays and heat from the sun and drying are a powerful disinfectants.




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