B    ackyard bird feeding is a                                                                                convenient w...
and make an appearance.               s   How durable is it.              the feeding portals. Look for    That’s all it t...
on how often it rains. Feeding           If you opt for a large volume          If you want only finches and    hummingbir...
Species Variety                             Seeds that wind up on the     The species you attract is              ground a...
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Bird Feeding 101 - Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Feeding Birds


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Backyard bird feeding is a convenient way to enjoy wildlife. According to a recent Census Report, over 63 million Americans, young and old, feed, watch, or photograph wildlife.

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Bird Feeding 101 - Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Feeding Birds

  1. 1. B ackyard bird feeding is a convenient way to enjoy wildlife. According to a recent Bird Feeding 101 Census Report, over 63 million Americans, young and old, feed, watch, or photograph wildlife. Everything You Ever Wanted And, they spend $29 billion annually doing it. To Know About Feeding Birds What has made watching birds the fastest growing hobby For more nature habitat information in the country, second only to gardening. Whatever it is, Visit these helpful websites: watching birds, like watching fish A Plants Home or other animals, seems to A Birds Home make people feel good. A Homesteaders Home How do our feeding “hand- outs" affect the birds. Little research has been done on that question. But we do know that some birds – cardinals, mockingbirds, and tufted titmice – have extended their winter range northward, perhaps because of an increased availability of food at feeding stations. There is no indication, however, that backyard bird feeding has had a negative affect on wild bird populations as a whole. Backyard bird feeding can, however, have an adverse effect on an individual bird. There may be a higher incidence of disease and birds injured by flying into windows. But, you can take Close your eyes for a moment and picture this – precautions to minimize these a white carpet of new, soft, sparkling snow... a red problems. cedar, hopper bird feeder loaded with black oil sunflower seeds and mounted on a wood post with a white “top hat"... and moving, brightly colored objects zooming in How to Start and out of your “picture." No matter where you live, you can put food outside your door, This work of art is bird feeding at its finest! and some creature, feathered or furred, will show its appreciation© WindStar Wildlife Institute Page 1 A Plants Home
  2. 2. and make an appearance. s How durable is it. the feeding portals. Look for That’s all it takes. Once you feeders with drainage holes in get started, it’s hard to stop. s Will it keep the seeds dry. the bottoms of both the feeder hopper and the seed tray. Before you know it, you’re s How easy is it to clean. learning bird names. After Even bowl-type feeders and awhile, you’ll start to s How much seed will it hold. trays with drainage holes will recognize individuals and the clog with seed and bird messages in their behavior s How many birds will it feed droppings. Add rainwater and and song. at one time. you have an unhealthy broth. Look for shallow plate-like seed When you get to the point s Which species will use it. trays. The purpose of a tray is where you want to attract and to catch dropped seeds while “keep" a particular species, allowing spent seed shells to what you do will be determined Durability blow away. by where you live and the time There seems to be no end to of year. the material used in making bird feeders. You can buy Cleaning In the long run, a squirrel- “disposable" plastic bag Any zookeeper and cage bird proof feeder or any feeder on a feeders; feeders made of cloth, owner will tell you, when you feed pole with a baffle is the least nylon, vinyl, and metal netting; birds in a confined area, you aggravating solution. The clear, lexan, colored and PVC have to expect bird droppings, most effective squirrel-proof plastic tubes; ceramic and feathers, an occasional insect feeder is the pole-mounted terra cotta; redwood, western or two, and left-over food mess. metal “hopper" type. cedar, birch, pine, and plywood; sheet metal and aluminized While you don’t have to wash If you must hang a feeder, steel; glass tubes and bottles. the feeder daily, you should select a tube protected with clean it regularly. metal mesh. Most plastic How long a feeder lasts “squirrel-proof" feeders, depends on how much effort you Diseases like salmonella can despite manufacturers’ put into maintaining it, the grow in moldy, wet seed and bird claims, may eventually effects of weather, and whether droppings in your feeder tray succumb to rodent teeth. squirrels can get to it. and on the ground below. It’s a good idea to move your feeders If you have the “right" (just a foot or so) each season situation in your yard, a pole Dry Seeds to give the ground underneath with a baffle should suffice. Water can get into any feeder time to assimilate the seed Any wood or plastic feeder can – regardless of how careful you debris and bird droppings. be effective when mounted on are to protect it. Seed will spoil a pole with a plastic or metal when it gets damp or wet. Cloth, Keeping your feeders clean baffle, if the pole is at least 10 vinyl, nylon, and metal netting should not become a major feet or more from a tree limb feeders are inexpensive, but undertaking. The degree of or trunk. they do not protect your seed. maintenance required is directly You can improve them by adding related to the types of birds Once you’ve determined a plastic dome. you want to attract. where you’re going to put your feeder, you’re ready to go Most wood, plastic, ceramic, A thistle feeder for shopping. In addition to good and solid metal feeders will keep goldfinches should be cleaned looks, think about... seed dry, but water can get into about once a month depending© WindStar Wildlife Institute Page 2 A Plants Home
  3. 3. on how often it rains. Feeding If you opt for a large volume If you want only finches and hummingbirds requires cleaning seed feeder, be sure to protect an occasional dove and white- at the very least, weekly, it from the weather and keep it throated sparrow, try niger preferably more often – two or clean. If, after months of use, thistle. three times a week. Sunflower the birds suddenly abandon and suet feeders may need to be your feeder full of seed, it’s time If you want only jays, cleaned only once a month. for a cleaning. titmice, and white-throated sparrows, try peanuts. Feeders made of plastic, ceramic, and glass are easy to How Many Birds. Another way to discourage clean. Wash them in a bucket of If too many birds at your unwanted birds is to use hot, soapy water fortified with a feeder becomes a problem, you specialty feeders that, for capful or two of chlorine bleach, can control their numbers by the most part, allow only then give them a run through putting out smaller amounts of “select" birds to feed. your dishwasher. seed, by using specialty seeds, or by using restrictive feeders. The most non-selective Use the same regimen with feeders are the tray, wood feeders, but substitute If you fill your feeder only when platform, or hopper feeders. another disinfectant for the it’s empty, the birds will look for bleach so your wood won’t fade. food elsewhere. They’ll return as You can encourage small long as you continue to fill it. birds with feeders that restrict access. Wood Food Capacity You can virtually eliminate feeders with vertical bars and The ideal feeder capacity varies visits by birds you’d rather not feeders covered with wire with your situation, and the see by offering seeds they won’t mesh frustrate the larger types of birds you want to eat. Be selective in your choice birds. attract. of seeds. Tube feeders without trays If you feed hummingbirds, big If you use more than one also restrict access to small feeders are not always better. type of seed, put them in birds. Remove the perches, One hummingbird will drink about separate feeders. This will and you’ve further selected twice its body weight (less than reduce wasted seeds, as birds only those birds capable of an ounce) each day. will toss unwanted seeds out of clinging – finches, chickadees, a feeder to get to their titmice, and woodpeckers. Early in the season, hummers favorites. are territorial and won’t share a Add vertical perches to feeder. A 16-ounce feeder can be Birds that visit your feeder tube thistle feeders, and wasteful, or indeed lethal, have very specific preferences. you’ll limit accessibility because artificial nectar (sugar Most prefer sunflower. Some primarily to the goldfinches. water) can ferment in the hot prefer millet. A few prefer summer sun. peanuts. None seem to prefer If starlings are a problem the other grains used in the at your suet feeder, you can If you see only one hummer in mixes: corn, milo, red millet, discourage them by using a your yard, a two-ounce feeder is oats, wheat, and canary seed. suet feeder with access only more than enough. On the other at the bottom. Starlings are hand, if you live in the Southwest, If you want to feed only reluctant to perch upside and have 34 hummers in your cardinals, doves, and white- down. Chickadees and yard, a 16-ounce feeder may not throated sparrows, switch from woodpeckers don’t find that be big enough. black oil sunflower to safflower. a problem.© WindStar Wildlife Institute Page 3 A Plants Home
  4. 4. Species Variety Seeds that wind up on the The species you attract is ground are likely to be determined primarily by the contaminated by dampness and seeds you offer. bird droppings. If the birds don’t eat them, rodents will. Black oil sunflower is the hands-down favorite of all the The most effective way to birds that visit tube and house attract the largest variety of type feeders. White proso millet birds to your yard is to put out is favored by birds who visit separate feeders for each food: platform feeders (doves and sparrows). Ducks, geese, and s Starling-resistant suet quail will eat corn. feeder Many of the cereal grains s Hopper feeder for sunflower (corn, milo, oats, canary, wheat, rape, flax, and buckwheat) in s Bluebird feeder mixed bird seeds are NOT favorites of birds that visit s Wire mesh cage feeder for tube feeders. peanuts Watch a feeder filled with a s Nectar feeder seed mix and you’ll see the birds methodically drop or kick out s Tube feeder for thistle most of the seeds to get to their favorite – sunflower. Birds s Stationary or tray fruit will also kick out artificial feeder “berry" pellets, processed seed flavored and colored to look like s Hopper or platform feeder “real" fruit. for millet This article was written by Thomas D. Patrick, President and If I Stop Feeding, What Will Happen. Founder of the WindStar Wildlife Some people don’t feed birds because they are concerned that Institute, a national, non-profit the birds will become dependent on the feeders for survival and if conservation organization whose mission is to help individuals and they stop, the birds will starve to death. families establish or improve the wildlife habitat on their properties. Normally, this is not true. Feeders serve as supplements to For more information or for the natural food sources, not replacements. Birds that visit feeders name of a Master Wildlife Habitat develop a routine or pattern of visiting feeders. If your feeder is Naturalist in your area, please empty on a particular day, they simply go on to the next. If your contact: feeder remains empty for a long period of time, they may quit WindStar Wildlife Institute coming at all. The exception to this is when there are snow storms, ice storms, E-mail: wildalife@windstar.org http://www.windstar.org and periods of severe, prolonged cold – birds then need food badly. Your feeder can make a difference in the birds survival.© WindStar Wildlife Institute Page 4 A Plants Home