Feeding Tips

How to choose your birds

Why Feed Wildbirds?

Cardinal Feeding TipsTraditionally, it was thought that feeding birds was not very important and maybe only done during the cold winter months. However, because of the spread of urban development, many sources of food & water for birds have been lost. Over time, roads, parking lots, retail centers and other results of urbanization, have drastically impacted the ability of wild birds to find sufficient sustenance, even during the more bountiful spring & summer months. Using bird feeders during all the various seasons helps replace these lost sources of food and enhances bird populations. In the spring time, birds are migrating & nesting and need as much good nutrition as they can get. In addition, feeding birds is a great way to attract various species to your backyard for observation. And as a side benefit, birds provide a “green” way of insect control as many seed eating species also consume “garden/lawn harmful” insects in great quantities.

Feeder Selection & Care

There is a wide range of feeder styles and types to choose from. The type of feeder is closely linked to the type of birds you want to attract. For general wild bird feeding(attracting birds which have seed foods as part of their diet)  there are seed dispensing feeders that dispense sunflower(black and striped), mixed seed (commonly a blend of millet and blackoil sunflower), thistle/niger seed, finch mix, safflower or numerous other variations, including even mixing seed with suet. Nectar or hummingbird feeders dispense a sugar based nectar solution that attracts hummingbirds.  

Goldfinch Feeding Tips

What basic features to look for:  Feeders should be easy to fill, to prevent wasting seed while filling. The seed dispensing ports should be versatile, allowing you to use any type of seed.  In addition, the feeder should be easy to clean. Dirty feeders can cause detrimental health issues for your birds. To prevent this, clean your feeders at least once a week (twice a week for hummingbird feeders) by using a mix of vinegar and warm water. Feeders should have the ability to dispense their food almost completely, to avoid waste & residue build-up. Also look for feeders that have adjustable perches. This feature allows you to set your perch length in accordance with the size of bird you want to attract.  

Hanging Your Feeder 

Seed Feeders – Feeders can be either hung from a strong branch/shepherd’s hook or they can be pole or post mounted. In any case, select a location that is near enough to tree/bushes that adequate escape cover (from predators) is accessible for your feeding birds. The feeder should be at least four to five feet from the ground, this will help keep it out of reach from marauding raccoons and other critters. Be careful not to place your feeder too close to large windows, this will help prevent collisions on your windows, and this also allows your birds more escape flight routes when predators show up.   Take into consideration where you will be typically viewing your birds from, and this line-of-sight is also important for monitoring the seed/nectar levels in your feeders. If you are planning to photograph your feathered friends while they feed, consider a location where there is at least partial sunlight available.

Hummingbird Feeders – Same as seed feeders, except hang your nectar feeders at least 20ft from your seed feeders. Hummingbirds are very territorial and may attempt to drive off your seed eating birds, if they are too close to your nectar feeders. Also, to keep your nectar cooler & fresher longer, hang your hummingbird feeder where it receives minimal direct sunlight. 

Tip:  You can plant nectar producing flowers that will also help attract hummingbirds to your feeders.

Indigo Bunting Feeding TipsOnce you have selected a location and hung your feeders into position, be patient.  It may take a couple of days, or even a week or two, for the birds to discover their new sources of food. If, after two weeks have passed and still no birds at your feeders, try sprinkling a little seed around their hanging locations. Birds use their vision to find food and this technique will help them locate your feeders placed in your lawn or garden. Another way to attract birds to your feeders is to have a water feature/fountain that makes splashing sounds. Wild Birds have exceptional hearing, and the sound of water will draw them in.