If you are going to put birdfeed and suet out for the birds, think “diversity.” The more diverse the offerings, the more types of birds will come. Black oil sunflower seeds are the holy grail of birdseed. Blue jays, cardinals, chickadees, finches, nuthatches, and sparrows love it.
Birdseed mixes are very popular with beginners. Sometimes they are not so popular with the birds. Lots of “filler” seed and not too many good seeds can frustrate the birds. They push the picked over seed out of the feeder and onto the ground. This does give birds that do not land on feeders a source of food. It also often attracts squirrels.
Thistle or Nyjet. This is a really small seed that finches love. You need a special feeder but it is worth it to watch the fun and beautiful finches.
Suet is really a block of animal fat. It is useful in the winter when birds need more calories just to stay warm and are having trouble finding food. It is served in a suet feeder mounted on a post. Wire the feeder shut so the raccoons and possums won’t steal the cake of suet.
Nectar in a hummingbird feeder will attract hummingbirds. They are very territorial birds and you may want multiple feeders to keep multiples from fighting. The nectar is four parts water to one part white sugar. Dissolve the sugar in warm water, let it cool so it won’t burn any tongues, and put out. No food coloring is the best option for your birds.
You can also feed birds peanuts, peanut butter, cracked corn, and a variety of seeds and manufactured foods. The bigger the spread the more birds visit.
Shelter is more than the bird house you built for a project one summer. Different birds use different sizes of bird boxes. The entry hole makes a difference between small birds in the birdhouse versus big ones. The best bet is a selection of bird houses placed on your property. There are lots of free plans for birdhouses, so just pick some and build them. Be sure and follow the instructions for mounting them. A good house in the wrong location is not likely to be chosen by the birds for living quarters.
The other kind of shelter is the shrubs and trees around the various feeders you have. Birds do not usually fly straight to the birdfeeder. They land on a handy shrub or tree and then dart over to the feeders. Then they fly right back to the shrub. So place shrubs close to the feeders but not too close. They should be too far for a domestic cat to jump out of the shrub and grab a bird flying to the shrub.
These ideas should give you a wide variety of bird life to watch. If you continue to put out food, the birds will continue to come. They will also be attracted by the noise of birds feeding. Birds are very curious and they have to check those sounds out.
You will need to clean each bird feeder out regularly. Wet weather will cause fungus and other nasty things to grow on the food, potentially sickening birds who eat it. Even in dry weather, messy birds can dirty feeders pretty fast, so they need to be cleaned. Hummingbird feeders should especially be cleaned every time you change the nectar inside because all that sugar ferments in the heat and can grow nasty bugs or even alcohol inside.
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