Feeding the Birds

Feeding the birds is a great year round activity suitable for any aged person.  Feeding the birds does not have to be expensive or time consuming.  They require very little maintenance for the hours of entertainment they provide.

Attracting birds to your viewing area is easy to do.  You can attract birds whether you rent or own, live in a house or in a high rise.  Food, water and shelter are the three elements needed for birds to survive.   One or any combination of the three will appear more attractive to birds and draw in a wider variety.

Putting a feeder up in your yard requires planning.  It needs to be placed near enough to trees and bushes so the birds can flee quickly if there is danger from a bird of prey.  But it also needs to be six to eight feet away from trees so squirrels don't jump to them and raid your feeders before the birds get to eat.  Pine trees near feeders should also be trimmed at the bottom since this is where cats and other animals like to hide and sneak up on birds.

Feeders come in many styles and sizes.  Large, open tray feeders are called hoppers.  They can be filled with mixtures, sunflowers and corn.  Window feeders can be placed on suction cups and mounted directly to your window for up close viewing.  Tube feeders have small holes in which only certain seed like thistle seed can fit through.  Platform feeders are simply a wide, open space with seed set on top.

Specialty feeders include hummingbird, oriole and suet.  Hummingbirds only drink a 1 to 4 sugar water mixture out of the tubes on their feeders.  Orioles drink the same sugar water, but from larger perches on feeders with openings.  Suet feeders hold suet cakes which are preferred by woodpeckers, nuthatches and titmice.

The most common seed to put in a birdfeeder is sunflowers.  Sunflowers will attract blue jays, cardinals, chickadees, finches, sparrows and many other songbirds.  Thistle seed is also popular in tube feeders for goldfinches.  Other popular seeds used in feeders are mixes, millet, safflower and corn.

Birds are also attracted to fruit.  Robins will come to raisins on the ground or in platform feeders.  Orange halves and apple chunks will draw tanagers and orioles.  Other colorful songbirds eat fruit chunks like pears, peaches, oranges and apples too.

Keeping the feeders filled year round is very important.  Birds need the seed for energy during the cold winter months.  They also require it in the spring before natural food sources have grown and matured on trees, flowers and shrubs.  In the early spring and summer all of their extra energy goes into building nests and raising babies.  Having easy to find food makes their life easier.  During the fall, natural food gets picked off quickly and feeders fill the gap or missing food supplies.

After eating, birds also like to drink.  Birdbaths offer water to drink and also to bathe in.  Use a shallow, glazed ceramic basin and fill with water.  Place in a sunny location away from overhead trees.  Regularly clean the basin to keep bacteria and dirt from building up.

To keep the birds that eat and drink in your yard nearby, hang a birdhouse in a tree or on a fence.  With food and water nearby, the shelter will be used almost immediately by a feathered friend.  After each nesting season ends in the fall, clean out the feeders and wash to prevent disease from spreading year to year.

Providing all three elements for survival will keep birds in your yard all year long.  Whether they eat out of your feeder, they may drink out of the bird bath.  So you will still get to see a variety of birds in your yard.

Information is for educational and informational purposes only and is not be interpreted as financial or legal advice. This does not represent a recommendation to buy, sell, or hold any security. Please consult your financial advisor.