The best food for wild birds occurs naturally on plants and in the soil. The best way to provide food for wild birds is to grow plants that are native to your area that have the blossoms, fruit and seeds the birds like to eat. The decrease in wild-bird habitat because of development creates the need for bird feeders. You can provide seeds, nuts, suet, water and nectar in your garden to attract birds for you to observe and give the birds a welcome snack.
Nectar for Hummingbirds
Hummingbird feeders are among the most common bird feeders found in home gardens. Hummingbirds are fascinating to watch and they are not afraid to come close to people. Because they are attracted to the color red, feeders for hummingbirds always have a red tip. The nectar is clear. A mixture of four parts boiled water to one part sugar will give hummingbirds an energy boost. Use white sugar or purchased hummingbird sugar to make nectar.
Suet for Woodpeckers
Woodpeckers and other birds that eat insects like suet. You can purchase suet cakes at garden and wild-bird stores or make them. To make a suet cake melt suet (rendered fat), strain it and pour it into a container to cool. Add nuts, berries, peanut butter and cornmeal or flour to the suet before cooling it. Place it in the refrigerator or freezer until it hardens. Place suet feeders outdoors in the cool weather when the birds will appreciate the fat and extra food. Suet gets rancid quickly in warm weather.
Seeds for Songbirds
Wild-birdseed mixtures come in prepared bags specifically tailored for different bird species. Choose a seed mixture that matches the birds you see and hear in your garden. Once the birds find your feeder, they will tell their friends. Some birds eat seeds and insects from the ground, but most prefer the safety of a feeder hanging from a tree branch. You can blend seeds, nuts and dried fruits to make your own birdseed mixture. Use pesticide-free products.
Water for Wild Birds
In addition to seed, suet and nuts, birds need water for drinking and bathing. Keep fresh water in a birdbath or fountain near the bird feeder for the birds to enjoy. A deep garden pot saucer makes a good water dish for birds. Place it on a stand or hang it from a tree so the birds can enjoy it safely.
Nyjer Seed for Goldfinches
Birds that cling to trees like to eat from a feeder that is mesh with large enough holes to pull seed out. Nyjer seed is a very small, oily seed that attracts goldfinches and pine siskins. You might find a dozen goldfinches hanging on to a nyjer seed feeder at the same time. You can hang a refillable sack or a wire mesh feeder to serve this seed in your garden. Nyjer seed comes from Africa and Asia and is a more expensive bird food.