Posted on 14 February 2014.
Choose the right bird food, and you may see something like this unusual shot of a male (lower) and female Pileated Woodpecker, feeding at Nelson Township resident David Marin’s feeder. David sent us this photo last spring.
Feeding Wild Birds
If you have a bird feeder in your backyard, you’re in good company. Bird watching is one of America’s fastest-growing hobbies, and surveys show that nearly half the households in the United States provide food for wild birds.
The appeal is obvious—by feeding birds we bring them close so we can see them more easily. Their colorful, lively company brightens up our lives, especially through the dreary days of winter.
Setting up a backyard bird feeder can make birds’ lives easier, too. In much of North America, winter is a difficult time for birds. Finding food can be especially challenging during periods of extreme cold.
What should you serve your bird visitors for dinner? And how should you serve it? The shelves of supermarkets, home and garden stores, and specialty bird-feeding stores are stocked with bags, buckets, and cakes of many food types, as well as numerous different feeders. You may find the task of selecting the best foods and feeders a bit daunting.
Choosing Bird Food
With such a variety of bird foods on the market it’s often hard to choose which is best.
In most areas, black-oil sunflower seed attracts the greatest variety of birds. It has a high meat-to-shell ratio and a high fat content. It’s small and thin-shelled, making it easy for small birds, such as the Tufted Titmouse, to handle and crack. Striped sunflower seeds are larger with thicker seed coats.
Although sunflower seeds are the all-round favorite, particularly for tree-dwelling birds, some birds prefer different foods. Blackbirds relish corn, for instance, whereas doves, like many ground-feeding birds, prefer white millet or red milo. Certain species may even have different food preferences in different parts of their range.
Check out birdsource.org to find out more, then visit local stores that supply birdseed, such as Cedar Springs Mill and Supply, to get just what you need for your backyard birds!