Let's talk about bird feed. There are two kinds. There's the kind to fill man-made feeders and there are natural food sources such as fruit or nectar-bearing plants. Either will get the job done. And combined, they're too powerful a combination for your birds to resist.
Like other wild bird attractors, your offerings will be determined by which bird species are in your area, which you prefer to attract, which, if any, you wish to deter, whether or not you prefer to attract animal species other than birds, and the size and limitations of your habitat.
In this section, let's explore food available from wild bird food and equipment retailers. We'll cover attracting birds with plantings in another section.
Protect nuts from squirrels with a baffle.
Stripped Sunflower, Oil Sunflower and Millet mixture attracts many species.
Suet may be found either plain or with added ingredients.
No question about it ...
If you've decided on which wild birds you want to attract and selected a bird feeder just for them, choosing a food offering won't be a puzzle. After all, if you are the proud owner of a gold finch feeder, it's settled. You'll be bringing home a sack of nyger seed to offer your yellow birds. The same holds true for other feeders made to hold a specific offerings. A suet feeder offers sustenance to a variety of bird species while being built to offer one specific type of bird feed.
Mixing it up ...
Platforms, traditional hoppers and tube feeders accommodate a wide range of bird food varieties. And what you select to fill them with may vary with the wild birds you want to attract, the seasons of the year in which those birds visit, and even whether you want to put out offerings designed to deter birds you would prefer not to invite. Sometimes results are highly predictable. Other times, it's fun to experiment and see what happens.
These are the most common offerings for man-made fixtures:
Secrets for chasing away the uninvited....
Detracting undesirable birds and mammals can be a challenge that never becomes totally resolved. Other times, it can be done quite easily if you know the magic tricks.
Here are some of them...
... Blackbirds like Grackles don't like safflower seed. Fill your platform, hopper or tube feeder with safflower and they will likely depart.
... Suet is a magnet for mammals as well as birds. If you don't want to spend a lot of time and money feeding squirrels, chipmunks, raccoons and such, purchase plain suet without additives. Additives such as nuts are what attract the mammals. Or, suet laced with hot peppers. If the mammals take a bite at all, they won't return for more.
... Additives that are unpleasant to mammals but ignored by birds are available from suppliers. Explore them if you're plagued by critters.
Dealing with pests ...
No, not deer or squirrels.
Think smaller .... chipmunks and mice. Keep them at bay by storing bird feed in tight, nibble-proof containers.
Think smaller still .... seed moths. Moths!? You'll know you have them once they show up. The answer is to deal with them by placing seed moth traps near your bird feed supply and frequently washing out your bird food storage containers.
Bird food can be purchased or home made. It runs the gamut from seed to suet, to nuts and corn, to insects and fruits. You can influence the variety and species of birds and other wildlife that visit your garden by the bird food offerings you make. Most of all, you'll have fun watching animal behaviors as you furnish food offerings that make your wild habitat unique.
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