With the arrival of cooler weather many bird species are migrating south for the winter. For our northern neighbors seed and food supplies are depleted due to snow cover while in Florida the supply is low due to the demand. Setting up a birdfeeder or bird feeding station in your garden for the birds can help keep migrating and native birds full and happy.
What to Feed:
What you choose to place in your feeder will depend on the species of birds in your area that you would like to attract to your garden. You can purchase a commercial mix of seeds to attract a variety of birds, which may also contain grains that some birds dislike, or provide the following seeds individually:
- Sunflower: the most popular with many species
- Thistle: great for attracting finch and sparrows
- Millet: preferred by many smaller birds
- Safflower: Cardinals and Chickadees love these while squirrels do not
Bird food is not limited to seed. Many birds enjoy grains such as oats and corn and nuts including raw peanuts and walnuts. With hard shelled nuts be sure to crack the shell. Remember squirrels love nuts. Unless you are trying to attract squirrels make sure you place them in an area were squirrels cannot get to them. Fresh and even dried fruits including apples and orange halves are a wonderful choice for your feeding station.
Dining with a view, where to place your birdfeeder:
Place your feeder near a tree or bush for cover but at least 10’ away to deter squirrels and mice from feasting from the feeder. To close to a tree will also give cats a place to hide, waiting to pounce on the unsuspecting bird. Birdfeeders can be free standing, mounted on a pole or hung.
What type of birdfeeder is best?
There are many styles of birdfeeders available and just like choosing what to feed choosing a birdfeeder will depend on the species of birds. Simple platform style feeders, with a flat open surface, will attract the widest variety of birds and can be made easily using re-purposed items such as dinner plates and teacups. Some retail platform feeders come with roofs to help to keep the food dry.
Additional feeder styles include:
- Hoppers: A hopper style feeder dispenses the seed slowly while keeping the food dry.
- Tube: A tube feeder is similar to a hopper but most have holes around the sides with perches.
- Bowl feeder: This style consists of a small bowl covered by a larger upside down bowl.
If you fill it they will come…
It could take some time before the birds notice the feeders. One way to attract them is to have a ready supply of clean water available, using a birdbath or fountain. Moving water in a fountain or small pond is especially attractive to birds. In addition moving water will keep mosquitoes from laying eggs. When first setting up your birdfeeder only use a small amount of feed until you notice the birds have arrived.
Bird watching can be educational and fun for adults and children. Get the kids involved with this simple kid’s project; using an empty paper towel holder, smear it with peanut butter and roll in seeds. Simply place outside and wait for the birds.
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