How to Attract the Backyard Birds You Want to Attract to Your Yard

 

How would you like to attract your favorite birds to your yard? I’m going to show you how! Simple, and almost guaranteed, too! First, a couple of fundamentals: all birds need three things, food, water, and shelter.

Food – Birds can get food from seeds you provide in your feeder, and from landscaping that offer nectar, fruit, seeds and plant insects, natural food sources.

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Water – Providing this necessity is one of the quickest ways to attract birds to your yard. If you don’t have a natural water source, setting out a birdbath is quick and easy. You can even offer a heated birdbath in the winter to keep water staying ice-free.

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Shelter – Can provide safety from predators, warmth or shade from the weather, or a safe place to hide nests, making your yard a more useful place for birds.

For the next step, actually beginning the selection process, you’ll need a good birding book, one covering your area of the country. Many birding series of books provide more in-depth descriptions by dividing the United States by Eastern & Western regions. That birding book must show range maps for each species, so you can determine just how available the bird you want to attract is to your region. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to attract a bird to your yard that is an irregular visitor to your area. It would also be helpful if your book suggested seed, feeder type, and feeding habits your bird-choice likes.

Now make a list of each bird you would enjoy watching and listening to in your yard.

Next, refer to your range map to confirm the bird is a frequent, regular visitor in your geographic area, either breeding or year-round.

Third, learn what feeders it prefers, and if you have one or need to purchase one.

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Fourth, what seed it prefers, such as black sunflowers, safflower, nyjer or thistle, white proso millet, peanuts. milo, millet, mealworms, fruit or nectar, or suet. As a reminder, be certain you have the appropriate feeder for the seed type. E.g, a nyjer feeder for nyjer seed.

Let’s take an example, the Northern Cardinal. A bright red male who does not molt, so always in his conspicuous red-feathered suit. The Northern Cardinal does not migrate, so in winter he is even more spectacular against the snow. Cardinals prefer sunflower and safflower seeds offered from feeders with spacious landing areas, such as large hopper on platform feeders. In the summer, the cardinal’s sweet sound is one of the morning’s first melodies you’d hear. There is only one catch– you had better live on the Eastern half of the U.S.! Cardinals do not range out west beyond Texas, the Dakotas, and such. The Cardinal is the reason more birders bought birding books than any other species!

 

To learn more about how to improve your backyard habitat, visit www.habitat.net

Into DIY, visit nestwatch.org/birdhouse to get free downloadable nest-box plans

To learn more and participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), visit birdcount.org

To learn more about Project Feederwatch, visit feederwatch.org

To learn more about nestwatch, visit nestwatch.org

Migration Strategies​ of the Hummingbird

From 2008 to 2013 researchers using data from eBird patched together hummingbird sightings from thousands of sighting checklists to track the central location of hummingbird migration over North America. Their study included 5 hummingbird species that migrated up to 2,500 miles: the Calliope Hummingbird, Black-chinned Hummingbird, Broadtailed Hummingbird, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, and Rufous Hummingbird.

Their research revealed that hummingbirds shifted between different stopover sites each year, as far as 320 miles (Calliope Hummingbird).  One year they travelled through Tucson, Arizona, another year through Albuquerque,  New Mexico.  This year to year variation implies that there is leeway in the hummingbird’s decision-making regarding what routes to take during migration. The hummingbirds could be selecting their stopover sites based upon the availability of high-quality food, such as flowers with nectar, to fuel their rapid-pace metabolism. With this versatility, hummingbirds can adapt as the rising temperatures alter the blooming times and location of flowering plants.  This type of adaptability may give the hummingbirds the ability to alter their timing and migration route to match changes in the location of flowering plants, in response to global warming.

With the uncertainty associated with climate change, including the timing of flowering plants, hummingbird feeders will become an increasingly important source of nourishment for migrating hummingbirds of all species.  Feeders serve as a supplement to the hummingbird’s natural food source, so put your hummingbird feeders up early and keep them up until late in the migration season. With 10% of all hummingbird species worldwide threatened by extinction, this study gives hope on the long-term survival of these “jewels of the sky”.

Hummingbirds are All-American Birds

Hummingbirds are exclusively an American Family. Their range includes South America, Central America and North America.  The largest concentration can be found in Central and South America. The number of species of hummingbirds is generally placed in the range of 320 to 330, though the exact number will never be settled to everyone’s satisfaction, ornithologically speaking, that is. Of this number, North America has 16 successful breeders: The Ruby-Throated, Black-Chinned, Rufous, Allen’s, Broadtailed, Calliope, Anna’s, Costa’s, Broad-Billed, White-Eared, Blue-Throated, Violet-Crowned, Magnificent, Buff-Bellied, Beryliline, and Lucifers. Only the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird breeds east of the Mississippi River.

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For no other reason than we are located in Michigan, The Ruby-Throated, our only hummingbird, will be the first hummingbird upon which we will concentrate.

If you could stand in the middle of the U.S. and look east, that’s about their territory, from top to bottom.

Here are some fun facts:

  1. The Ruby-Throated are about 3 1/4″ long.
  2. Weigh about 3 grams (.11 ounce). When it bulks up for travel, it can weigh as much as 4 to 5 grams.  By comparison, a nickle weighs in at 4 grams.
  3. Its wings beat from 75 to 200 times per second.
  4. They can fly forwards, backwards, upside down, and hover in place.
  5. They use their tiny feet mostly for perching, rarely to walk or hop.
  6. Nest is walnut size. The female builds the nest, binding the different materials she finds by using strands of spiderweb. She then coats the the outside with bits of lichen or bark to camouflage the nest. Each egg is 1/2″ long.  She will incubate the clutch of two eggs for 12 to 14 days. They will fledge when they are about three weeks old. She may use the same nest the next year or build a new one over the old. Once the young birds are on their own, there is no further bond between the female and young birds. They begin to raise their own families when they are 1 to 2 years old.
  7. This hummingbird eats an average of 30% of its weight each day.
  8. Ruby-Throats get carbohydrates from the sucrose in the nectar and protein from the tiny insects they pick from spiderwebs or snatch out of the air.

Nectar Solution:

Analysis of natural nectar sources preferred by hummingbirds show most of them contain 20 to 25 percent sucrose.  To make a solution to mimic nectar concentration found in flowers, combine four parts water to one part white granulated sugar. Do not use honey, brown sugar or artificial sweeteners.

If you would rather use natural nectar, plant flowers that hummingbirds prefer.  You can also place your hummingbird feeders among your flowers, a natural way to supplement the nectar in flowers and attract more hummingbirds.

Gardening for Hummingbirds:

  1. Bee Balm (Monarda Didyma), Zone 4 to 9.
  2. Cardinal Flower (Lobelia Carinalis), Zone 3 to 9.
  3. Trumpet Vine (Campsis Radicans), Zone 4 to 9.
  4. Salvia (Salvia Splendens), All Zones.
  5. Fuchsia (Fushsia), Zone 8 to 10, grown as annuals elsewhere.
  6. Columbine (Aquilegia), Zone 3 to 9.
  7. Hollyhock (Alcea Rosea), Zone 3 to 9.
  8. Flowering Tobacco (Nicotiana Alata), summer to first frost.
  9. Honeysuckle Trumpet (Lonicera Sempervirens), Zone 4 to 9.
  10. Red-Hot Poker (Kniphofia), Zone 5 to 9.

To truly enjoy this “Flying Jewels”, put a hummingbird feeder on your window and get a front-row seat!

 

 

 

Why Do Birds Sing?

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As you listen to a bird’s song, have you ever wondered why they sing? We did, so we thought we would do a little research.  Here is what we found:

  1. In general, males do the singing.
  2. Though the songs give us pleasure, birds do it to communicate with members of their own species.
  3. A prime reason to sing is to establish a territory. Singing lets other males of the same species know there is a family in this neck of the woods and intruders are not welcome.  The male singer doesn’t care about other species. There can be several different species within the same territory – no problem.
  4. The male chooses the same singing posts on the edge of his territory from which to regularly sing, which establishes the boundaries of his territory.  If a rival male crosses into this occupied territory, he will be immediately challenged.  If there is a fight, more often than not the territory’s “original” occupant will win.
  5. Another reason the male sings is to attract a suitable mate.  It is not known how a female distinguishes between a bachelor bird and one that is happily paired, but they do. It is also thought that singing further serves to strengthen the bond, maybe leading to mating.
  6. “Ecstasy Flight” songs are random and contain many improvised elements, the “jazz” renditions of bird songs.  Usually these “outbursts” occur during the peak of breeding season, often at twilight.  Mockingbirds regularly indulge in this form of song.
  7. Bird calls are different from songs, communicating totally different messages than songs.  They are short simple sounds of one or two syllables. Songbirds tend to have a larger repertoire of calls, many have 20 or more. Calls may be used to (1) communicate with a partner, (2) beg for food, (3) call their young, (4) keep in contact with the flock, (5) show aggression, or (6) warn of a predator.  Black-capped Chickadees will add “dees” to the end of their call to denote a predator is near, the more “dees” the greater the threat.  In one instance, over 20 “dees” were added to the end of the song! Wonder what caused the alarm?  A pygmy owl!

Introducing Our New Frequent Buyer Program at WildBeaks.com!

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The internet is a vast and incredible place for a small retail website. For this reason, at Wildbeaks.com we have always looked for new ways to reward the loyalty of our customers, without whom we wouldn’t exist. This has largely been accomplished through coupon codes included in email campaigns, newsletters, and social media posts. We were never completely satisfied with this level of reward, and wanted to do more. With our new, updated site, we now have that capability!

Effective immediately, we are introducing our new Frequent Buyer Program. For every five orders you place on Wildbeaks.com using your customer account, you will automatically receive 10% off your next order! It’s that easy. No coupon codes to hunt down, no emails you might miss, no extra work for you; just an automatic savings on your next order. This discount applies after every five orders you place for the rest of your days as a Wildbeaks.com customer! It’s our way of giving back to you for choosing us out of all of the options available to you online.

This discount applies to every customer with a Wildbeaks.com account, which means you have to create a customer account for our site to keep track of your orders. If you check out as a guest, we cannot track your orders and you will not qualify for the discount. So if you have been purchasing from our site as a guest and don’t want to miss out on the savings, create an account today!

As always, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your support through the years. Thank you for all of the valuable feedback about the new site, and keep those comments coming! Your help allows us to continue improving to make our site the best shopping experience possible.

Happy birding!

Visit Our New and Completely Redesigned Site!

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At Wildbeaks.com, we have worked hard every day to offer the best products at the best prices. We strive for a site that is easy to navigate, utilizes customer-friendly features, and has a simple and effective checkout process. We want simplicity and satisfaction to be the customer experience. With that in mind, we have upgraded our site, both in design and functionality. We took years of experience paired with valuable customer input and have crafted what we think is a simple, attractive, and efficient site to better serve all of you. It’s the same web address, http://www.wildbeaks.com, just new and improved!

We would love it if you would stop by and give it a try! Drop us a note and let us know what you think. Let us know the features you like, and those you either don’t like or think are missing, so that we can continue to learn how it can be improved. We are constantly tweaking and trying new things in a effort to make our site the best retail birding site available. If you feel like purchasing something when you stop by, as a thank you for being a valued customer, use the coupon code THANKS15 and save 15% off one item of your choosing on our site!*

We look forward to hearing from you!

*expires 8/31/15

WINTER BIRDING TIPS

In much of North America, winter is a rugged time for birds. Days are often windy and cold, nights worse, with temperatures falling, many times below zero.  Birds that rely heavily on insects in their diet quickly fall on hard times.  Frozen lakes, rivers, and ponds mean water is even more difficult to find. Shelter disappears with the leaves.  Pine trees offer some salvation, probably the best natural shelter in winter, but many places do not have pines.

So, how can we help?

First, serve seed that is highly nutritious, as it will provide the energy birds need in the winter. The seed with the most bang-for-the-buck is black sunflower seed.  It is high in protein and fat, readily available, and not too expensive. It has twice the calories per pound as striped sunflower seed.  If you put out mixed seed, serve a high quality mix with a healthy portion of black sunflower seed.  Seed can be mixed with fruit or suet pieces, too. Suet plugs and cakes are excellent sources of protein, and can contain insects and fruit as an ingredient.  Remember, too, that not all birds have heavy-duty beaks for breaking into seeds, so occasionally serve seed without hulls, such as hulled sunflower seed or no-waste seed. Safflower seed is another highly nutritious seed, and it is enjoyed by many species, especially the Northern Cardinal. If you mix safflower (a white seed) with black sunflower, not only is it healthy, it will be more visible, which is how most birds find their food.

When it comes to feeders, you can hang a clear plexiglass or plastic feeder, such as the Sky Cafe, so all the seed is visible. A platform feeder with a transparent top is ideal too. So you don’t have to trudge through the snow too often, set out larger feeders that need to be refilled less often, and if possible, move them closer to your house (within three feet, or on the window). Window feeders are often the easiest option to watch over, fill and maintain.  These tricks will help to assure that birds have seed all winter.  Choose hopper or platform feeders that have roofs that extend over the feed area so the seed is protected from the elements.  Make certain there are screen bottoms or drain holes so the seed doesn’t sit in moisture and turn moldy.  If you use tube feeders, look for feeders that have seed dividers at the bottom so the seed is moved to the bottom ports and not allowed to sit and become moldy.  Also, make certain that the tube feeder is easy to clean so the bottom can be quickly removed and all old seed easily disposed of, like the Aspects Quick-Clean Feeders. To protect a tube feeder from the elements, place a clear top or dome over the feeder.

Freestanding water is also a must for birds, but it is difficult to find when the temperatures drop below the freezing mark.  If you have a birdbath suited for the cold weather, you may add a heater to the water in the basin to keep it free from ice.  The heaters are safe, relatively inexpensive to operate, and affordable.  In lieu of a birdbath heater, a heated birdbath is ideal.  It will keep the water unfrozen through even the harshest temperatures.  The new-generation birdbath heaters and heated birdbaths have thermostats that regulate the heaters, turning them off when the temperatures exceed freezing, saving energy and reducing cost.  Many operate at the cost of a modest light bulb.

Happy Winter Backyard Birding!

 

 

 

Attracting Backyard Birds

How to attract the birds YOU WANT to your backyard!

First, grab your favorite bird book and make a list of the birds you want to see in your yard.  Second, do a little research on their wants and needs, such as what seed they like to eat or don’t like to eat (in case you want to discourage a certain species), what feeders they like to feed from, what nest boxes they might want to set up house in, what plants or flowers provide nesting material, food, safety, etc., and what water sources suit them best.  Then take a look at your backyard and ask yourself: Will my yard attract and keep the birds I want to attract?  If not, what steps must I take to get it there? On the most rudimentary level, you need to provide three things: food, shelter, and water.

Okay, let us examine each “How-To-Do-That” more fully.

Number one: Which birds do you want to attract to your yard? First, is the species native to your area? This information should be available in your birding book. Second, is your backyard habitat suitable for that species, even though they are noted as being common in your state?  For example, you may want Purple Martins and Purple Martins may be present in your geographic area, but your yard may not be suited for their needs.  There could be too many trees or no direct flight paths for the Martins. The same can be said regarding Bluebirds. Maybe you would love to have them, but your yard is just not suited to attract them because it is not big enough, or too close to man-made structures. Another consideration is the species migration pattern.  Do they only migrate through your area rather than settling there to nest and breed?  You can try to attract this traveling species to your yard, but the task will be difficult and probably frustrating, and the window in which you get to enjoy them could be quite small.  Where I live, for example, Baltimore Orioles pass through every year, and every year I get my feeders out early, fill them with oranges and grape jelly, and every year they stop in my yard, sometimes for weeks, but invariably they move on north, maybe no more than 10 miles, to breed.

Number two: What does each bird you chose to attract to your yard like?  Here is where the research will pay off. Time to grab your bird books again and learn about those birds. (1) What type of feeder (if any) is best for attracting your birds? (2) What is their favorite food? (3) Where and how do they like to nest?  Very briefly, here are a few quick points on some of the most popular groups. Clingers such as nuthatches and woodpeckers love peanut feeders and suet feeders, filled with whole peanuts (which Blue Jays love as well) peanut halves and suet logs or cakes.  Finches such as the goldfinch or house finch love Nyjer seed, so put up a Nyjer (thistle or finch) feeder or two. If possible, separate your finch feeders from the other feeders.  You will increase your small bird population if you do so. If you want to refine it further, put an upside-down finch feeder out for the American Goldfinch, which is the only finch to eat upside down.  This will increase your American Goldfinch population. They also make a finch seed mix, which they seem to love. Also add a mixed-seed tube feeder for the smaller birds and fill it with black oil sunflower seeds (very nutritious) or a quality mixed seed.  For the larger birds, like the Northern Cardinal for example, which are essentially ground feeding birds that have adapted to bird feeders, add a hopper and/or platform feeder and fill it with their favorites, black sunflower seed and safflower seed.  You could also put out seed developed especially for the Cardinal (or other species), such as Wild Delight’s Cardinal Mix.  The two feeders we mentioned, hopper and platform feeders, easily accommodate either of these seeds.  I would grab a bag of black sunflower seed and pour it into you new feeder! For hummingbirds, select a hummingbird feeder that is easy to fill and to clean, and one you enjoy looking at day after day.  Make sure it has bee guards and an ant moat.  I suggest putting at least two hummingbird feeders out, putting one out of the line-of-sight of the other so the male doesn’t dominant both feeders.  You can buy ready-to-consume nectar, ready to mix nectar, or you can make your own (4:1 sugar to water ratio).

If you want to provide nest boxes for your favorite birds, research the type of house and size of entry hole the bird requires.  Many birding books offer advice on types of birdhouses, or, if you are handy, build you own. In my yard, I have several nesting boxes out each spring and they are always filled throughout the summer.  For many years, I’ve had Black-capped Chickadees and nuthatches as renters. There is something remarkable about watching the cycle of life unfold just a few feet away; from courtship, to selecting and filling the nest box, to the laying of eggs (and my peeking in the box at the eggs and chicks), to the hatching of the chicks, to watching the parents feeding the youngsters, to watching the chicks fledge and leave the nest box.

Remember to add a water source to your yard.  It will attract many more species of birds than just those that dine at your feeders. That is also true of gardening around your bird species.  Again, grab your gardening birding book and check out what plants, shrubs, or flowers will enhance your backyard birding experience.

So, add the feeders, fill them with nutritious seed, suet and nectar, put up your houses, fill the birdbaths, plant your plants, and sit back and watch them come. It all goes well with a cup of coffee.

 

Black-capped Chickadee: One of Our Top Five Favorite Backyard Birds!

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The Black-capped Chickadee is a “fun” bird.  It will brighten your yard as well as your day with its constant “chatter”, “Chick-a-dee-dee-dee”, and insatiable curiosity.  The Black-Cap will perch nearby waiting for you to finish filling ITS feeder, not a bit uncomfortable with you so near by, but maybe a bit impatient!  It will remind you to speed it up with its call, again and again.

They are also about as cute a small bird as you will find anywhere with their black cap and bib and white cheeks. Their underparts are white with rusty brown on the flanks. They have a short dark bill, short wings and a long tail. Their total body length is about 5 1/2″. From wingtip to wingtip, they are near 7″.  They weigh less than one-half an ounce.  Sexes look alike, but males are slightly longer and larger than the female. Because they are inquisitive, they are one of the easiest birds to attract to your bird feeder for suet, black sunflower seeds, and peanuts. They don’t mind using tiny hanging feeders that swing in the wind, or window feeders.

With a little luck and perseverance, maybe you can have them eating out of your hand!

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They hop along tree branches searching for food, sometimes hanging upside down. They make short flights to catch insects in the air. In the summer, insects form a large part of their diet.  In the spring and summer the Black-capped Chickadee hides seeds and insect larvae to eat later.  Each seed is placed in a different spot.  It is believed the chickadee can remember thousands of hiding places.

During the fall and winter, chickadees flock together in noisy groups, which many times can include other species of birds, such as titmice, nuthatches, and warblers. Other species stay because the chickadees call out whenever they find a good source of food, allowing the other birds to find food more efficiently. They also call when predators are nearby.

On cold winter nights, Black-caps reduce their body temperature by as much as 22 degrees (F) to conserve energy. Capacity for torpor (reducing body temperature) in birds is quite rare with only a dozen or so with this capability. Another surprising adaptation is that Black-caps are able to replace old neurons with new neurons, essentially creating new mental-space to store new information!

The Black-capped chickadee can be found from coast to coast, mostly the northern half of the Unites States in the south, to James Bay, the southern edge of the Northwest Territories and the Yukon, and the southern half of Alaska in north. its preferred habitat is deciduous woods or mixed, deciduous and coniferous.  Found also in open woods, parks and suburban yards.

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The Black-capped Chickadee is the state bird of both Maine and Massachusetts. It is also the provincial bird of New Brunswick.

Their name comes from their call, chick-a-dee-dee-dee (Called onomatopoetic — the word is the sound that it describes.)  Their call is simple sounding but complex.  Recent study shows that their call consists of up to four distinct units, which can be arranged in complex patterns to communicate information from group movement to threats from predators.  It has been learned that the more “dees” the chickadee places at the end of the call the higher the threat level from nearby predators.  In one case, a warning call about a pygmy owl, a prime predator, contained 23 dees!!

In the states of Alaska and Washington, and in parts of western Canada, Black-capped Chickadees have become affected by an unknown agent that is causing beak deformities. This deformity causes stress by inhibiting feeding ability, mating, and grooming.  Black-capped Chickadees were the first affected bird species in Alaska in the late 1990s. More recently, the deformity has been noted in 30 other bird species in the referenced area.

FALL BIRDING TIPS

FALL TIPS

Keep these Feeders Up!

If you live in the northern climes, migrating birds begin to get ready about now, including a couple of our favorites, the Baltimore Oriole and Ruby-throated Hummingbird. That means that both birds are still hanging around your backyard, so keep your hummingbird feeders full of nectar and your oranges and jelly out for your Orioles. Both will be leaving soon for their annual migration to warmer vacation spots, most likely to Central America and the Neotropics, so they need to bulk up for the travails of a long migration. The male adult Ruby-throated will begin leaving sometime in late July or early August, with the females and young leaving as late as mid-October. The Orioles are gone by Mid- to Late-September.

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It is very important for their survival that they can find food along their migration route, including finding food in your yard.  Although a few Baltimore Orioles winter in the southern states, most Orioles migrate south along the Mississippi Flyway to Mexico then to Central and South America. In winter and during migration, Baltimore Orioles are often seen in small groups composed of mixed ages and sexes. Orioles arrive in the Norther States in late April and early May, usually about a week later than the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, so that means they arrive earlier in the Southern States.

Did you know that male Orioles do not develop their bright coloration until their second molt, in the fall of their second calendar year? Although yearling males (those in their first potential breeding season) resemble adult females, some successfully attract mates and raise young. The species is usually socially monogamous.

Why Start Feeding Birds in Fall?

Birds are scouting for food sources when the food is still fairly abundant, and that includes the autumn months. Experience has told them that they need to be ready when cold weather arrives. Cold will increase their calorie requirements right at the moment food becomes harder to find. Bugs stop flying; snow covers the seeds; buds and fruit are iced over; the birds need to be ready. Remember that birds are under stress when the winter weather hits. They do not have the luxury of waiting until bad weather arrives before searching for food. They need to know where the food will be, so if you do not feed your backyard birds all year, start offering the seed now. When winter arrives, they will remember your yard.

 What Type of Feed to Offer?

Cornell Lab of Ornithology states, “One key to attracting a diversity of bird species is to provide a variety of food types.” This doesn’t mean you must set out every type of seed available, just a good selection. The seed that attracts the greatest number of species is black-oil sunflower, so be certain that the seed you buy has a healthy portion of black-oil sunflower seeds in the mix. Safflower is another seed that many birds like, especially the cardinal. Lately, in my yard, safflower has been the favorite. As a bonus, safflower has limited appeal to starlings and house sparrows, and is not liked much by squirrels. Goldfinches, siskins and redpolls love “nyjer.” It is somewhat expensive, so make sure you put nyjer seed in nyjer feeders and check to be certain the feeder is in good shape. Having nyjer seed fall out of a well-worn feeder is an unnecessary expense. If you use stockings, be certain the holes have not been stretched over time, allowing the seed to fall to the ground. Best to replace the nyjer-stocking feeders after a few months of heavy use. You will save enough in nyjer seed to pay for a new stocking. If you want to attract Mourning Doves, you will have to offer a seed that contains milo and millet. Woodpeckers, nuthatches, black-caps, and other “clinging” birds enjoy suet, a very high energy food. The goal is to set out seed that is high in fat, is nutritious (read the bag or label), and have thin shells, making it easy for small birds to hold and crack open. (Striped sunflower seeds, for example, are larger and have a thicker outer seed covering. Not ideal for small birds).

What Type of Feeders?

Again, if your goal is to attract a variety of bird species, you should offer a variety of feeders. In our climate, fall and winter feeders should be tough! They must withstand heavy rains, wind, snow and ice. Your feeders should be large enough so they don’t have to be constantly refilled. Stomping through snow is no fun. Hopper feeders are good for the larger species of birds, such as cardinals. Tube feeders are excellent for smaller birds, like finches and chickadees. Nyjer feeders will help attract finches. Suet feeders accommodate nuthatches and woodpeckers. Platform feeders can be placed on the ground or mounted on a deck railing. They can also be suspended from hooks. Platform feeders can accommodate a wide range of bird species, from small to large. The disadvantage is that the larger birds will scare the smaller birds from feeding, so it is good to have tube feeders as well. There is an “All Weather” feeder that is available and it is quite unique. This feeder is designed with our winter weather in mind. The All Weather Feeder is the first completely weatherproof wild bird feeder.

 One Other Thing

Unfrozen water is difficult to find in winter, so birds will remember what yards have water and they will check those yards when water is scarce. Sure, birds can and do eat snow, but that comes at a price. Snow is below or at freezing, so in order for the bird to use the snow as a source of water, it must melt the snow first. If you have ever melted snow, you know how much snow it takes to make an equivalent amount of water: quite a bit more. So more snow is needed to produce any given amount of water. The need for extra food is now required to provide the extra energy for the bird’s body to melt the snow and keep its body temperature up.

 Make a difference, offer an ice-free water source.

There are principally two ways to create an ice-free water source. One solution, if your present birdbath is capable of remaining outside during our harsh winters, is to put a small heating unit in your birdbath. These units are quite capable of keeping your birdbath free of ice, and they are very economical to operate. They turn off and on as the temperature rises and falls, using about as much energy as a 75 to 150 watt light-bulb.

 The other method of providing ice-free water is with a heated birdbath. These, too, operate very economically, providing ice-free water at the equivalent cost of a 150 watt light bulb.   They begin to heat when the temperature falls below 35 degrees.