In our interior region, we see many species of birds year-round. A feeder is the best way to ensure bird visitors in your own backyard. There are many types of feeders available and you can choose from a variety to help promote lots of bird patrons. Also, don’t be afraid to have a few different types of feeders to encourage many different varieties of birds to seek out your backyard (or front yard, deck, patio, anywhere that works for you). A common type of feeder is the suet feeder, they are a style of bird feeder that allows the birds to feed at a solid chunk of food. The feed is most often in the form of a cake and is placed into a wire cage. This allows for the birds to perch on the feeder and peck for food through the cage. The suet is usually composed of rendered fat from kidneys or loins of fat from beef and is perfectly safe for birds to eat. The most common types of birds you will attract with a suet feeder is finches, bluebirds, wrens, sparrows, robins, woodpeckers, cardinals, chickadees, and nuthatches. Peanut feeders are a great way to attract blue jays, nuthatches, tufted titmice, and woodpeckers (and sometimes squirrels as well). They are usually shaped like a tube but can also be found in a wreath shape. These feeders generally come with large holes so the birds have to work at getting the peanuts out. Another common type of feeder is the tube feeder. They can come in a variety of sizes but when looking for a tube feeder, try to find one that comes with a weighted lid or contraption that will close off access to the feed from “bully” birds (like grackles) and squirrels.  

 

 

Filling tube feeders with sunflower or safflower seeds will help to encourage cardinals, tufted titmice, house finches, chickadees, and grosbeaks to visit. If you’re wanting to attract a larger bird like morning dove or dark eyed juncos; a tray or platform feeder will help! A platform feeder will provide an open feeding surface and can allow a larger bird to land and sit and eat. Look for tray or platform feeders with a mesh bottom to allow for drainage. Likely the most classic type of feeder is the hopper feeder. It is usually enclosed on all four sides and has a roof which protects from rain and snow. It is often possible to find hopper feeders with suet cake holders on the outside. Hopper feeders also tend to attract larger birds like woodpeckers, grosbeaks, and morning doves.

 

After you have chosen your ideal feeder…or even few feeders to bring in as many birds as you can, there are a few more things to remember to ensure a mutually satisfactory bird environment with your feeders. Firstly, when filling your feeders try to ensure that you’re providing the birds with good quality feed. Try to avoid bargain bird seeds as they’re often filled with cracked corn, oats, and wheat. These things are inexpensive and are not appealing to many bird species. This in turn will likely cause a mess in your yard and a sprouting of unwanted weeds under your feeder. Offering birds something that will encourage them to visit can be as easy as offering sunflower seeds as they are appealing to many types of birds, the only downside is that they can also bring in bully birds. The black oil sunflower seed is a great option (especially in preparation for winter months) as it offers a meatier version with a higher oil content than the striped sunflower seed. Try to also avoid letting your feeder go empty as this can teach birds that this is an unreliable food source and will not encourage them to return, this is especially true and important during winter months as a constant and available food source can be especially desirable to birds looking for a healthy winter meal.

It is extremely important to remember that the cleanliness of your bird feeder is also incredibly important. Bird feeders should be cleaned 3-4 times per season, especially after periods with a lot of rain or snow as the moisture can create mold in your feeder. Mold in your feeder can lead to spoiled food which can in turn lead to disease and illness being spread, not only to those who visit your feeders but possibly to a larger flock and other feeding stations. Thankfully, maintaining a clean feeder is relatively easy. When first choosing your feeder, look for one made of glass, ceramic, recycled plastic, or even metal as these materials are all relatively easy to clean. While a wooden feeder may be beautiful, keep in mind that they can absorb oils and other debris, making them harder to keep clean. Cleaning your feeders regularly (about once a month and more for a busy feeder) is important. Soak your feeder first to loosen any bits that are stuck inside. It’s important to completely submerge your feeder and then thoroughly clean with a mild unscented dish soap and water or a specialized commercial bird feeder cleaning solution. For the most exhaustive clean, take apart all pieces of the feeder. Also, ensure all places where the birds may perch or where feces may collect are cleaned as well. Specialized brushes for cleaning feeders are available and old toothbrushes can also be effective for cleaning small areas. Once you’re sure that your feeder is clean, it is very important to rinse your feeder thoroughly and dry completely before using your feeder again as any residual moisture can lead to mold and mildew growth.
Just a few simple things like a variety of clean feeders with nutritious feed can help promote a multitude of bird species to visit your space and give the relaxation and ambiance that our feathered friends can offer. By providing these safe clean spaces, we are also providing and encouraging many bird species to have a healthy and prosperous future for them and their offspring. This mutually beneficial arrangement can offer years of enjoyment to both people and birds alike!

 

 

 

 

 

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