how to pick bird seed

Sparrows, juncos, and towhees usually feed on the ground, while finches and cardinals feed in shrubs, and chickadees, titmice, and woodpeckers feed in trees. To avoid crowding and to attract the greatest variety of species, provide table-like feeders for ground-feeding birds, hopper or tube feeders for shrub and treetop feeders, and suet feeders well off the ground for woodpeckers, nuthatches, and chickadees.

A diverse mix of seeds will attract the greatest variety of birds. To avoid waste, offer different seeds in different feeders. Black oil sunflower seed appeals to the greatest number of birds. Offer sunflower seeds, nyjer (thistle) seeds, and peanuts in separate feeders. When using blends, choose mixtures containing sunflower seeds, millet, and cracked corn—the three most popular types of birdseed. Birds that are sunflower specialists will readily eat the sunflower seed and toss the millet and corn to the ground, to be eaten by ground-feeding birds such as sparrows and juncos. Mixtures of peanuts, nuts, and dried fruit attract woodpeckers, nuthatches, and titmice. A relatively few species prefer milo, wheat, and oats, which are featured in less expensive blends.

Suet (beef fat) attracts insect-eating birds such as woodpeckers, wrens, chickadees, nuthatches, and titmice. Place the suet in special feeders or net onion bags at least five feet from the ground to keep it out of the reach of dogs. Do not put out suet during hot weather as it can turn rancid; also, dripping fat can damage natural waterproofing on bird feathers.

Peanut butter is a good substitute for suet in the summer. Mix one part peanut butter with five parts corn meal and stuff the mixture into holes drilled in a hanging log or into the crevices of a large pinecone. This all-season mixture attracts woodpeckers, chickadees, titmice, and occasionally warblers.

Fruit specialists such as robins, waxwings, bluebirds, and mockingbirds rarely eat birdseed. To attract these birds, soak raisins and currants in water overnight, then place them on a table feeder, or purchase blends with a dried fruit mixture. To attract orioles and tanagers, skewer halved oranges onto a spike near other feeders, or supply nectar feeders.

Make a sugar solution of one part white sugar to four parts water. Boil briefly to sterilize and dissolve sugar crystals; no need to add red food coloring. Feeders must be washed every few days with very hot water and kept scrupulously clean to prevent the growth of mold.

Store seed in metal garbage cans with secure lids to protect it from squirrels and mice. Keep the cans in a cool, dry location; avoid storing in the heat. Damp seeds may grow mold that can be fatal to birds. Overheating can destroy the nutrition and taste of sunflower seeds. For these reasons, it’s best not to keep seed from one winter to the next.

Squirrels are best excluded by placing feeders on a pole in an open area. Pole-mounted feeders should be about five feet off the ground and protected by a cone-shaped baffle (at least 17 inches diameter) or similar obstacle below the feeder. Locate pole-mounted feeders at least 10 feet from the nearest shrub, tree, or other tall structure. Squirrel feeders stocked with blends that are especially attractive to squirrels and chipmunks can reduce competition for high-priced foods offered at bird feeders. Place squirrel feeders far from bird feeders to further reduce competition.

In the United States, approximately one billion birds die each year from flying into windows. Protect birds from collisions by placing feeders within three feet of windows, if possible. Mobiles and opaque decorations hanging outside windows also help to prevent bird strikes. Or attach fruit tree netting outside windows to deflect birds from the glass.

Cats kill hundreds of millions of birds annually in the United States, often pouncing on ground-feeding birds and those dazed by window collisions. Responsible and caring cat owners keep their cats indoors, where they are also safer from traffic, disease, and fights with other animals. Outdoor cats are especially dangerous to birds in the spring when fledglings are on the ground. Bells on cat collars are usually ineffective for deterring predation.

Uneaten seed can become soggy and grow deadly mold. Empty and clean feeders twice a year (spring and fall), or more often if feeders are used during humid summers. Using a long-handled bottlebrush, scrub with dish detergent and rinse with a powerful hose; then soak in a bucket of 10 percent non-chlorine bleach solution, rinse well, and dry in the sun. In early spring, rake up spilled grain and sunflower hulls.

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Shelled and cracked corn

Among the many species that consume corn are the cardinals, grosbeaks, grouse, pheasants, turkeys, quails, jays, doves, ducks, cranes, and crows. Unfortunately, corn has two serious problems. First of all, House Sparrows, cowbirds, starlings, geese, bears, raccoons, and deer all like it; none of them should receive our financial assistance. Second, aflatoxins, which are extremely toxic even at low levels, are most likely to contaminate corn as bird food. Never purchase corn in plastic bags, keep it dry, don’t give it in quantities too large to eat in one sitting during rainy or extremely humid weather, and be sure to rake up any leftover corn.

Rapeseed and canary seed

There is nothing special about these two seed varieties over the more common ones. Certain birds, such as quails, doves, finches, and juncos, do consume rapeseed. Should you fail to receive these, the rapeseed will be allowed to deteriorate. House Sparrows and cowbirds, two birds that many people would prefer not to attract, are big fans of canary seed. This is a better option overall because sunflower is equally satisfying to other species that consume canary seed.

how to pick bird seed

In the summer, peanut butter works well in place of suet. Combine one part peanut butter with five parts corn meal, then insert the mixture into the cracks in a large pinecone or the holes drilled in a hanging log. This all-season mixture attracts woodpeckers, chickadees, titmice, and occasionally warblers.

Uneaten seed can become soggy and grow deadly mold. Clean and empty feeders twice a year in the spring and fall, or more frequently if they are used in the sultry summer months. Scrub with dish soap and rinse with a strong hose while using a long-handled bottlebrush. Soak in a bucket of 10% non-chlorine bleach solution, then thoroughly rinse and let dry in the sun. In early spring, rake up spilled grain and sunflower hulls.

While finches and cardinals feed in shrubs, chickadees, titmice, and woodpeckers feed in trees, and sparrows, juncos, and towhees typically feed on the ground Provide table-like feeders for ground-feeding birds, hopper or tube feeders for shrub and treetop feeders, and suet feeders high off the ground for woodpeckers, nuthatches, and chickadees to prevent crowding and draw the widest range of species.

Mix one part white sugar to four parts water to make a sugar solution. Sugar crystals can be sterilized and dissolved by briefly boiling them; red food coloring is not necessary. Feeders need to be meticulously cleaned and washed in extremely hot water every few days to stop the growth of mold.

The best way to keep squirrels away is to put feeders on a pole in a public space. The ideal height for pole-mounted feeders is five feet, and they should be shielded from the elements below by a cone-shaped baffle with a minimum diameter of seventeen inches. Place feeders on poles at least ten feet away from the closest tree, shrub, or other tall structure. A squirrel feeder filled with mixtures that particularly appeal to squirrels and chipmunks can lessen the competition for the expensive food available at bird feeders. Place feeders for squirrels away from feeders for birds to further minimize competition.

FAQ

What is the best all around bird seed?

Sunflower seeds are the seeds favored by most seed-eating birds, some 40 species including cardinals, tufted titmice, Carolina chickadees, house and purple finches, American goldfinches, brown-headed nuthatches, and red-bellied woodpeckers, to name a few.

Does the color of birdseed affect how much birds will eat it?

At the end of the twelve days of testing, the birds had eaten a total of 907 grams of the natural (no dye) birdseed. They ate a total of 487 grams of the blue birdseed, 335 grams of green birdseed, and 255 grams of the red birdseed. The color of birdseed does affect how much birds will eat it.

Can I just put bird seed on the ground?

You really don’t need to use anything when feeding the birds. I feed multiple birds and many of them are ground feeders. I broadcast the seed much like you do for feeding chickens. For birds that feed in trees I have a small hollow area in my cherry tree that I can fill with seed.

What is the difference between wild bird seed and pet bird seed?

Wild birds eat a variety of seeds during different seasons, as well as bugs, berries and a variety of vegetation. Their diet has much more variety than the average pet bird’s diet, and as a result, is much more nutritionally balanced.