5 Backyard Bird-Feeding Basics

Bring a bit of life to the dead of winter by attracting birds to your backyard with these feeding tips.

| November/December 2005

  • Attract birds such as cardinals to your yard during winter.
    Photo By Dasha Bondareva/Courtesy Flickr (http://www.flickr.com/photos/funtik/)

Enjoy a bit of outdoor life during the dead of winter. This is the perfect time to start a birdfeeder because natural food supplies are scarce. Follow these tips from the Audubon Society to attract winged visitors.

1. Offer favorites. Choose mixtures containing sunflower seeds, millet, and cracked corn—the three most popular types of birdseed. Mixtures of peanuts, nuts, and dried fruit are attractive to woodpeckers, nuthatches, and titmice. Suet (beef fat) attracts insect-eating birds such as woodpeckers, wrens, chickadees, nuthatches, and titmice.

2. Try different feeders. Provide table-like feeders for ground-feeding birds; hopper or tube feeders for shrub and treetop feeders; and suet feeders well off the ground for woodpeckers, nuthatches, and chickadees.

3. Store seed carefully. Cache birdseed in metal containers with secure lids to protect it from squirrels and mice. Keep the containers cool and dry to avoid mold that can be fatal to birds.

4. Clean feeders. Empty and clean feeders monthly to reduce bird diseases. Using a long-handled bottlebrush, scrub with dish detergent and rinse with a powerful hose. Then soak the feeder in a bucket of 10 percent nonchlorine bleach solution. Rinse well and dry.

5. Protect the feeding area. Position feeders at least three feet from windows to keep birds from flying into the glass. If you have a cat, keep it indoors (bells on cat collars often don’t work).

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