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Feed the Birds

feed, birds

Beginning with the basics, rest assured there is no right or wrong way to feed wild birds. All it takes is a little bread of bird seed in the palm of your hand, and your in the business of feeding chickadees. For most other birds however, its your choice of a wide variety of seeds and an endless selection of bird feeders, strategically placed to maximize your viewing pleasure and enjoyment.

Types of Bird Food:

Here are the basic types of bird seeds and bird foods:

Seeds and their value to Birds:
Sunflower High in protein and fats
Black Sunflower High in oil.
Sunflower Kernel High in energy
Cracked Corn carbohydrates, grit to grind seeds.
Safflower High in oils, but only certain birds will eat it.
Peanut Kernels High in fat and calories
Thistle (Nyger) High in oil. A favorite of finches.
Yellow Millet Vitamins, and protein

Bird Feeding Reference Chart -  See what your favorite birds like to eat. 

Note: Squirrels like most seed. too. The exception... Safflower. Too bad few birds eat Safflower.

A misnomer: What many of us call Thistle is actually Nyger.

Feeding Bread to Birds

It is a very common practice to feed bread to birds. Many varieties of birds will eat the bread. In most situations it is a good addition to a bird's diet. But, it is not, and should not be, their entire diet. Seeds, insects and grubs are all vital to specific birds. Seeds provide high energy that birds require for survival in cold, snowy weather.

Importantly, if you are going to feed bread to your neighborhood birds in winter, make sure to have the bird feeder filled with seeds, too. 

Other Common Bird Foods:

Suet- high energy, and fat. Feed your birds suet during cool weather and winter months. Suet is fat, and melts in warmer weather. It also spoils. Discontinue use when high temperatures reach 70 degrees.

Vegetable treats- Peas, corn and other seeded vegetables.

Berry bushes- Blackberries, raspberries, blueberries. Almost any berry plant or bush will attract a variety of birds.

Flying insects- a favorite of many birds, including purple martins, bats, and many more.

Worms and grubs- in your soil and lawn. Just skip the grub killer one season and you will attract a lot of birds.

As you know, backyard birds do not have teeth. They need grit in their gizzard to help grind down the seeds they eat. In the winter, it may be hard for them to find the grit they need. You can help by placing coarse sand near the bird feeder. If you leave it out, they will find it.

Did you know? Egg Shells aid birds in digestion. Crush a few dried egg shells and leave them at or near the feeder, especially in winter when it is hard for birds to find tiny pebbles and grit.

Gardeners, here are some flowers that you can grow that will attract birds to your yard:

  • Amaranths

  • Orach

  • Aster

  • Bachelor Button

  • Goosefoot

  • Thistle, any variety

  • Cosmos

  • Delphinium

  • Purple Coneflower

  • Blanketflower

  • Sunflower

  • Salvia

  • Hyssop

  • Flax

  • Alyssum

  • Poppy

  • Black Eyed Susan

  • Pincushion Flower

  • Zinnia

  • Trumpet Vines

  • Sorghum

  • Millet, all kinds

Bird Feeders- There are different bird feeders for different types of birds. Hanging feeders and platform feeders. Specialized bird feeders to hold different kinds of seed, and attract different types of birds.

 Birds can become dependent upon your feeder. The toughest time for a bird to find food is mid winter when snow covers their food supply, and spring when natural food supplies are low or exhausted. Once you start feeding the birds, it is best to continue to do so until summer, when natural food is plentiful.

Did you Know? Some birds feed upside down, so the bird perch and feeding station needs to be placed accordingly.

About this Bird:
Baltimore Oriole
Black Capped Chickadee
Northern Cardinal
Purple Martin

Cooper's Hawk



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