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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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!