Wild Bird Seed
attracting & feeding backyard birds
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How to Attract & Feed Backyard Birds with Wild Bird Seed
Attracting and feeding backyard birds is a favorite pastime for many people. Choosing the best bird feeder types, sourcing a high-quality wild bird seed mix, and consistently maintaining your bird feeders are the keys to successful backyard birding. However, there’s more you can do to increase the number of birds in your backyard. Let’s take a look at what birds prefer and how to get them to come to your feeders more frequently.
How Do I Choose The Best Bird Feeder?
According to the Humane Society, the following factors are the priority when shopping for a new bird feeder:
- Nonporous materials are best. Steel and glass feeders are easiest to clean rather than those made of clay or wood. Plastic is easy to clean but can scratch, crack, and break over time.
- A smaller-sized feeder empties more quickly leaving less opportunity for seeds to spoil or become wet.
- Choose a design with drainage holes and/or a dome to prevent rain from drenching the seeds
- Avoid feeders with points or sharp edges.
- Choose a feeder designed with perch points positioned far enough away from the food source to prevent soiling.
- Check out our comprehensive list below of which feeders attract what species of wild birds.
How Do I Choose The Best Wild Bird Seed?
Wild birds tend not to be picky about seed options, especially in deep winter when food sources are more scarce. However, high-quality bird seed attracts more birds in both variety and overall quantity – while also providing better nutrition.
Look for these signs of quality when shopping for bird seed:
- Opt for one with higher proportions of quality seeds like sunflower and millet vs fillers.
- Quality bird seed is usually packaged in clear heavy plastic to allow for visual inspection of the seed mix.
- Check the packaging to confirm the bird seed has not been treated with toxic pesticides or insecticides.
- Fresh seed: Clues that a seed mix isn’t fresh include dust, many empty hulls, and debris in the mix.
- Inspect seeds for any signs of insects, dampness, mold, and mildew.
- Price: Higher prices do not necessarily mean higher quality seed. Sales are a great way to stock up on a supply of bird seed, and bulk purchases almost always are a better value than smaller packages.
Tips For Attracting Wild Birds To Your Backyard Feeders
Tube Feeder for Wild Bird Seed
Vary Bird Feeder Types
Providing a variety of feeder types and wild bird seed types is the best strategy for attracting the widest variety of birds to your backyard. Different sizes and species of birds have different preferences for bird feeder types and placements.
Some factors to consider are yard size, what location to hang the feeder, local weather, maintenance, and your bird feed budget. The ideal bird feeder is secure enough to keep seeds dry, sturdy enough to withstand squirrels and harsh weather, is easy to assemble, and easy to keep clean.
The main types of bird feeders (and the birds they attract) include:
- Platform feeders for northern cardinals, pigeons, house finches, jays, song sparrows, titmice, starlings
- Platform ground feeders for cardinals, goldfinches, doves, juncos, house sparrows, towhees, jays
- House or hopper feedersfor titmice, buntings, house finches, jays, northern cardinals, red-winged blackbirds, chickadees, grackles
- Window feeders for chickadees, finches, some types of sparrows, titmice
- Tube feeders for pine siskins, redpolls, chickadees, goldfinches, house finches
- Nyjer feeders for pine siskins, goldfinches, house finches, redpolls
- Suet feeders for nuthatches, chickadees, starlings, bluebirds, titmice, warblers, woodpeckers, wrens, cardinals, jays
- Fruit feeders for grosbeaks, tanagers, orioles
- Log feeders for blue jays, woodpeckers, nuthatch
- Mealworm feeders for wrens, bluebirds, thrushes
Each type of feeder has its own unique pros and cons Consider the birds you hope to attract and their preferences when choosing feeders. Focusing on common birds at first helps to welcome other varieties too.
Lastly, remember your personal ability to clean and maintain your bird feeders when choosing which type is right for you as some styles are much easier to clean than others.
Provide Fresh Water for Bathing & Drinking
Birds are drawn to running water. A simple birdbath with a bubbler is a solid starting point that most wild birds love. Dutifully change the water every 2 days to prevent sickness, and be mindful of placement near shrubs or places predators like cats could hide and ambush.
No Toxic Yard Products
Insects are a primary food source for many birds, especially for growing juveniles. Utilizing organic yard practices gives wildlife the best health and, in turn, welcomes more animals into your space.
Plant Native Plants
Native plants obviously attract native species of birds, offering naturally appealing food and shelter sources. Evergreen trees and shrubs create safety throughout the year.
Western Yellow Robin
Provide Shelter from Predators & Bad Weather
Create a safe place for your wild bird visitors. Nesting boxes (with ventilation and without a perch) and even dead hollowed-out trees provide dwelling places for birds seeking shelter from bad weather and safe places to raise their young. A brush pile in an unused portion of your yard can be a welcome place for many birds to roost, nest, and hunt for bugs.
Set Up Your Backyard Wild Bird Oasis
Curating a welcoming environment by choosing the appropriate bird feeder types (and keeping them clean), sourcing quality wild bird seed mixes, and caring for your backyard with the birds in mind attracts more birds to your backyard, creating endless enjoyment for new and experienced birders alike.
Want to learn more about wild birds? Visit our Bird FAQ page for more great information.