Birds, like all creatures, need some basic things. Food, water, shelter and, as a prey creature, protection from being dinner.
There’s a huge variety of bird feeders and other accessories for your yard. Planting shrubbery to give birds cover helps bring them to the feeder. Protection from cats is a factor as is protecting the food from squirrels. Water, in a dish that prevents a bird from getting in the water and drowning. A small pump for running water helps, as does a small secured branch.
There’s a wide variety of bird seeds, suet and other things marketed for birds. Look at what is around you. What do you have to work with? If you have two green bushes in the corner of the yard this can serve as a safety for the birds…you can secure the bird feeders near this. Remember to check the feeders and remove any seed that gets wet, molds and/or otherwise spoils.
In a corner of the yard if you don’t have bushes make a brush pile. Sticks, an old (unsprayed) Christmas tree can be the basis of the pile, with sticks blown down from storms or prunings adding to the pile. This forms a small habitat for birds.
Tube type feeders can be found very inexpensively. There’s pan type feeders available that should be used only if there are no cats to pounce on birds feeding and the feeder can be protected from getting wet and spoiling the seed. Suet is another type of feed – avoid using this when it’s over 80 degrees as it can turn rancid. Hopper feeders are typically put on a pole and hold several pounds of feed. The granary type feeder in the picture was purchased at Tractor Supply for under $6. Thistle feeders are specific for tiny nyger thistle seeds for goldfinch, pine siskins and others. Hummingbird feeders are another type of feeder.
Keeping squirrels from the feeders is a problem for some. Squirrel baffles are of some use but keep in mind they can jump six feet and are adaptable to coming from a tree down a string to the feeder. Some bird feeders simply give up and in a nearby location feed the squirrels with corn.
A bit of research as to the birds in the area and what they like will pay off. Black oil sunflower seed is a bird favorite. Millet is in many bird feeds as well as cracked corn. The latter tends to soak up moisture. Milo, wheat or oats is used in some low priced blends – but keep in mind many birds discard these, and food unusued on the ground tends to attract rodents. However, some birds such as pheasants, quail and doves will eat these foods – if you’re feeding ground feeding birds and in an area to attract these it may pay off for you. Niger thistle is a favorite of many finches but tends to be a bit more expensive – use a good feeder to prevent waste. Suet can be placed in special cage feeders or net onion bags. Keep it out of reach of dogs. Peanuts and fruit are also favorites of some birds.
Did you know you can make hummingbird nectar? Use one part sugar to four parts water; boil briefly to sterilize and dissolve the sugar crystals. Keep feeders clean – red coloring doesn’t *have* to be added.
Feeder location is important. Place feeders at different levels – some birds feed at shrub level, some at tree level, some on the ground. Protect birds from windows and cats.
The Audubon society recommends disinfecting the feeder and birdbath in a 9-1 water-bleach solution, rinsing thoroughly at least once per month. Keep the bird bath clean and discard old seeds/hulls.
Bird watching can be done in your back yard with a minimum of expense. You can also go to many parks with habitats for birds. Feeders, hooks, feed can be set up initially, with a little creativity, for well under $50. You can watch the seeds birds eat and use one feeder for your own special mix based on what they eat the most of.
Birds are not difficult to attract and dress up a yard in a unique way. Our feeders are set up in the corner of the yard, about 50 feet from the home, with small bushes nearby, large trees nearby and some medium sized trees on the back side of the property. The feeder and steel hook cost roughly $18; some cardinal mix seed on sale for $8 for 10 pounds and within the day the two cardinals had brought several other cardinals to the feeder as well as wrens and other birds. A nijer thistle sock hangs on the feeding area as well as a berry suet holder, giving birds a variety of choices which has become a bird favorite in a short amount of time. Because it’s in a fenced yard I don’t have to contend with squirrels or roaming cats as I have dogs that may or may not come into the yard at any time. It’s inexpensive, takes minimal effort and attracts birds I enjoy watching. The added thistle sock and suet holder was roughly $6 plus three packs of suet on sale at Tractor Supply at .88 cents each. There’s enough suet to last for some time! A few more feeders will be added in time as well as a small fountain.
Look at your yard with new eyes – use a corner for a special type of conservation by providing for songbirds. If you live in the country consider a wildlife belt.
This is a hobby that can be done anywhere. The birds may differ by region by all can provide enjoyment. Plan yours today!