Birds enjoy a variety of seeds and feeders.
image by robb/morguefile
If you enjoy watching birds as they flock to your bird feeder, you likely are among the 65 million Americans who feed birds and spend more than $2 million annually on birdseed, according to the Pennsylvania Game Commission. That's enough money to purchase nearly 5,000 tons of sunflower seeds. Sunflower seeds might be the most popular food for birds, but to attract the widest selection to your bird feeder, you need to provide more than sunflower seeds.
Provide a variety of feeders. Tube feeders filled with black oil sunflower seeds attract birds like chickadees, nuthatches, finches and sparrows, but are too small for larger birds. Hopper feeders and platform feeders attract larger birds and provide room for perching. Cardinals and mourning doves frequent platform feeders. Suet feeders attract nuthatches and woodpeckers. Providing several feeders increases the number of birds that will frequent your yard.
Offer a selection of food. Black oil sunflower seeds provide the fat needed for quick energy and attracts most birds. Wild birdseed is a mixture of several seeds and appeals to many smaller birds. Place wild birdseed on a platform feeder or scatter on the ground. Filling hanging feeders with wild birdseed often results in fussy birds scattering seed as they pick through for the seed they prefer. Thistle feeders provide the perfect feeding station for finches. Offer dried berries and nuts for variety and to attract more birds.
Place feeders in a sheltered area. Shrubs and trees within 10 feet make an excellent escape from predators, provide a rest area for birds and protect them from harsh winter weather. If you choose to hang feeders near windows, use window clings to prevent birds from injury. When startled, birds swoop away quickly and might try to fly through the window.
Provide a source of running water or a birdbath. The sound of running water attracts birds to your yard for drinking and bathing. Keep fountains and birdbaths clean and fresh to prevent the spread of disease.
Clean feeders with a solution of a quarter cup bleach to 1 cup water to remove mold and residue from bird droppings. Seed casings and bird droppings mold quickly, subjecting birds to the devastating effects of disease. Empty old seed casings and rake the area beneath feeders on a regular basis.
Keep feeders filled with fresh food. Even though birds will seek food elsewhere when feeders are empty, they depend on you for a quick source of energy. A constant supply of wholesome birdseed keeps them healthy and will provide you with hours of pleasure.