It’s probably not something you think about every day – but our feathered friends need their fiber, too.
In anarticle in HGTV Magazine several years ago, Stephen Kress – vice president for bird conservation at the National Audubon Society – said you want to fill your feeder properly. It is important to know what bird feed is good for your local feathered friends and, more importantly, what is NOT ok to feed the birds.
According to Kress, “Feeding birds is not necessary for their survival except in extreme weather conditions. Feeders can help them get through that kind of weather. He suggests planting natural habitat and native plants because most birds eat insects and may not be that interested in the backyard feeders.
If you do decide to set out feeders for birds, the ones who would visit the feeders are more likely to visit them if there is some type of cover nearby. They can go to the feeder and then go back to safety in the shrubs if they feel threatened. It is also better to keep bird feeders within 3 feet of a window so if the bird is startled, it will be less likely to fly into the window.
Birds are energetic animals and need high calories options, so foods like bread and wheat in a bird feeder do not cut it. In fact, what many people feed birds during the winter may be putting them at risk.
Instead, aim to fill your bird feeder with more nutritious options, such as:
- Cracked corn
- Black-oil sunflower seeds
- Thistle (Nyjer)
- Milo, wheat & oats
Filling feeders with these seeds will ensure the feed will be eaten instead of scattered on the ground underneath. The more feed that ends up on the ground, the more likely there will be rodents visiting to consume the spoils.
It is also a good idea to think about the bird species that would visit the feeders. Some bird species are more aggressive. They may eat a lot of the feed but not leave feed for the other species who may visit the feeder.
You may also want to consider the types of feeders you set up and put them. For instance, doves, sparrows, juncos and other ground-dwelling birds will prefer to feed from a low platform feeder. Tube feeders are good for chickadees, titmice, and different finches. Hopper feeders are good for larger birds like grackles, blackbirds, and cardinals. Suet feeders are great for nuthatches and woodpeckers, as well as warblers and wrens.
Keeping your bird feeders clean is also important. Kress recommends completely cleaning the feeders with a 10 percent non-chlorinated bleach solution several times a year, but especially between season. You will also want to completely remove any uneaten food after about 2 weeks to ensure that the food hasn’t gotten wet and started to produce mold which could get the birds sick.
For more information on how to stock your bird feeder, check out the National Audubon Society’s Bird Feeding Basics page.
Sometimes it is difficult to find the type of birdfeeder you want, so here are some feeders you may want to check out.
This feeder by Woodlink is constructed of 90% post-consumer recycled plastic. It has a powder coated metal screen on the bottom to allow for better drainage. It is 12.75L x 12.75D x 2.5H inches. It is made in the USA.
The Birds Choice feeder is 12” tall and holds 1.2 gallons of bird feed. It is complete with a weather guard that can be moved to deter larger birds. There are 4 aluminum seed ports.
The feeder from Perky-Pet is a circular perch and mesh surface which provides a large feeding area. The zinc plated finish offers rust resistance for durability. It holds up to 2.5 pounds of black oil sunflower seed.
The feeder by Perky-Pet can be mounted on a pole or hung. It measures 11 inches long by 14 inches wide by 14 inches high. It has four positions which block squirrels and larger birds from feeding.
This feeder from Twinkle Star comes fully assembled and ready to hang. It holds 2.15 pounds of seed. The bird feeder is equipped with a lock cover to keep the lid safely closed and the seeds are kept dry inside. It is recommended that you check the feeder once a week to check it for fungus or insects.
Premium Bird Feeding Station with 2 Bird Feeders Included for Outside – Multi Feeder Pole Stand Kit with 4 Hangers, Bird Bath and 5 Prong Base for Attracting Wild Birds – 22-Inch-Wide x 92 Inch Tall
This feeding station by AshmanOnline is a rust resistant, sturdy steel pole that allows for easy adjustment to the desired location by loosening and tightening the wing nuts by hand, no tools are needed. You can also easily set it up by stepping down to plant it.
For those who can’t easily find the better-quality bird feed, here are some options:
EasyGo Product Nyjer Seeds – Premium High Energy Wild Bird Thistle Food – Finches, – Garden Backyard Birds – Great for Bird Feeders – 25 pounds
These seeds are an exotic and highly nutritious oil-rich seeds that are great for smaller birds. They are protein-rich and highly efficient providing the calories and fiber birds need for colder months. The bag has 25 pounds of Nyjer seed in them.
This bird feed by Wagner’s includes white millet, milo, cracked corn, black oil sunflower seed, striped sunflower seed, peanut kernels, Nyjer seed, and safflower seed. It comes in a heavy woven poly bag and is made in the USA.
This bird feed by Wild Delight contains sunflower kernels, peanuts, pistachios, cherries, raisins, vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes. It is available in 4, 5, 16, and 20-pound bags. There are no fillers.