Bird-Feeding Basics  female cardinal at feeder

There is something about watching birds feed that is relaxing. While I cannot explain it, I can appreciate the feeling of content.   Maybe it is watching their graceful movements, or maybe it is knowing you are enjoying the day together? Whatever it is, watching birds is addicting.

Feed the birds.  Sounds pretty simple, and it is actually.  However, a little forethought and preparation will increase your, and the birds visiting, enjoyment. 

Getting started is easy, and here are a few tips to keep in mind.

  1. Choose a feeder that holds a fair amount of seed so you are refilling less often. If you have squirrels, a squirrel-proof feeder is worth its weight in gold. Tube feeders or platform feeders will allow multiple birds to feed at the same time.
  2. Consider the location.  First and foremost the birds need to be able to find your feeder. Secondly, place it where you can easily view it.
  3. Allow the birds to feel safe. Some nearby cover such as a large shrub or tree gives birds the opportunity to land, and scans the area before going to the feeder. 
  4. Use a quality blend of seed with little or no fillers. You and the birds will notice the difference. A blend of seeds containing black oil sunflowers seed will attract 15-20 species of birds in our area. Most birds can easily crack the thin shell, and the high oil content is very nutritious. Cheap bird seed just ends up on the ground, and costs more in the long run.
  5. Adding a suet cake feeder will also increase the variety of birds feeding.
  6. Keep your feeders clean. Wash them once every three to four weeks.
  7. Having water available will keep birds flocking to your yard as moisture can become scarce especially in the heat of the summer, and freezing temperatures during the winter. Make sure your bird bath is shallow, and not slippery.  A heater for your bird bath is a great winter addition. A rock or brick in your birdbath that sits slightly above the water’s surface gives birds a place to land, drink, and bathe.
  8. Be patient.  It will take a few weeks for birds to find your feeders.
  9. 9. Do not feel like you have to keep you feeders full every day. Birds find multiple sources of food. If a day or two goes by where you have not filled your feeders don’t worry they will be back once they see the food is there. Knowing this can help stretch your bird-feeding budget allowing you to spring for the better quality bird seed.
  10. Have a field guide on hand as you will want to identify, and learn more about your new feather friends.


One final thought. We are inviting birds to enjoy our yard, and in doing so we have an obligation to keep the surrounding environment safe.  Chemicals, whether it be pesticides, fungicides, or herbicides can detrimentally hurt or poison birds as they feed on insects, worms and other critters. Whenever possible avoid using chemicals as even those labeled as organic can have an adverse effect on wildlife. 

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