Seeds are the most common food provided at feeding stations. They
are rich in carbohydrates and calories and supply valuable energy
during cold weather. However, many seeds and grains in commercial
mixes - millet, oats, flax, and wheat—are ignored and scattered
on the ground by most birds while searching for seeds they like.
This creates a mess, increases your feeding costs, and can attract
rats and mice. Mixes with unattractive seeds should be avoided.
The best all-around
seed that meets the needs of most seed-eating birds is black oil-type
sunflower seed. Thistle seed, also called niger, is generally eaten
only by siskins and goldfinches, but they love it!
to avoid mixtures and to buy seed varieties separately. You can
put each in different feeders so the birds can choose their favorite.
You can find seeds at feed stores, large hardware stores, and stores
that cater to bird enthusiasts. Your local Audubon Society Chapter
may also supply seed.
During the winter months, many insect-eating birds are forced to
change their eating habits to include seeds and fruits. Suet provides
an alternate source of food for these birds. Suet is the hard fat
surrounding cattle and sheep kidneys. It can be obtained at grocery
stores and meat markets, often free of charge. Prepared and packaged
suet is fairly inexpensive and available from many stores. Suet,
either “straight” or mixed with other ingredients, can
be put in wire mesh feeders or smeared into suet logs and crevices
of pine cones.
to boiling 1 part suet and 6 parts water.
2 parts cornmeal, 1/2 part flour, 1 part brown sugar.
pour into cupcake molds, and allow to harden.
aren’t the only ones who love peanut butter. When mixed
with other foods, it provides a less expensive meal than nuts.
In winter when protein and fat are scarce, peanut butter is a
valuable addition to a bird's diet. Try mixing peanut butter,
crumbs, and raisins with melted suet for a meal-in-one “bird
cake” which appeals to a variety of birds.
This specialty item can often attract birds that otherwise aren’t
interested in your feeders. Waxwings, robins, and thrushes may visit
a feeding station if fruit or berries are offered. Fresh or dried
apples, blueberries, cherries, cranberries, currants, dates, oranges,
grapes and raisins are popular fruits. Your yard should also have
a large variety of berry-producing trees and shrubs.