Feeding the Birds
Backyard bird feeders are a great way to add life and song to the landscape as well as help feed the birds over the winter months when food sources become scarce.
Birds can be fed year round, it is during the winter months it is needed most as man of the birds other food sources, such as insects, seeds, berries and fruit are gone, or have become inaccessible due to snow cover.
When placing feeders in your yard, place them in an area that is protected from bad weather, strong winds and predators. Placing feeders near trees or a wooded area where the birds can find shelter works well. Don’t place the feeders too close to the house as you don’t want birds crashing into windows.
There are a number of different types and styles of bird feeders.
Silo feeders are a long tube made of plastic, glass or metal with feeding stations and perches along the tube where the birds can sit and eat. The seed is stored within the tube, keeping it dry and clean. Silo feeders are often used for smaller sized bird seed.
Hopper feeders work well as they hold the bird seed in a built in storage keeping it out of the winter elements, only allowing a small amount of seed to pour out of the openings into a feeding tray where the birds can perch and feed.
Platform feeders, or fly through feeders, are basically a seed filled tray, (covered or uncovered) that is either hung or placed on a pole, allowing the birds easy access to the seed. These work great for larger sized bird seed.
Birds also enjoy suet which can be placed in wire cages where the birds can grip onto the wire and feed, or suet balls can be placed in wooden holders or in netting making it easy for the birds to access.
To ensure the birds stay healthy, it is important to clean the feeders on a monthly basis so there is no chance of disease spreading. Feeders should be washed with a mild bleach solution. Old seed should be removed, especially if it has become mouldy or mildewed as it could contain toxins. When picking out a bird feeder, look for one that is easy to clean. There are some feeders that can be taken apart and placed in the dish washer.
There is a choice of different types of bid feed which attract different types of birds and go into different feeders. Probably the most popular bird feed is black oiled sunflower seed. It is high in protein and the oil from the seed contains twice the amount of calories compared to the striped sunflower seed. This is important for the birds over the winter months. Sunflower seeds come either shelled or unshelled. The birds like them either way but the shelled seed is less messy as there are no shells to clean up. Other bird feed that can be used include Niger seed ( good for silo feeders) peanuts, nuts or mixed blends. In the long run it is better to choose a high quality mix that has no fillers that the birds won.t eat. Suet is a good food source as it is made up of fats and provides high amounts of energy. Many of the suets have nuts and berries mixed in with them.
It might take some time before the birds find your feeders and start to come on a regular basis, but once they start to come, they will depend on it, so it is important to keep the feeders filled and clean.
Jos Van Hage owns and operates two Art Knapp Home and Garden Centres in Prince George:
- Highway 16 west at Kimball Road
- Highway 97 north at Northwood Pulpmill Road.
Good article. Many of the mixes on sale in most stores do contain a lot of filler that birds don’t eat. Among the common fillers are the many kinds of millet. White millet is popular with some birds but red millet and other sorts of millet usually found in those mixes is just discarded. I’d go further than the article and say avoid mixes altogether. The concept of “a high quality mix” belongs with the concept of “squirrel-proof feeder” -;)
Another point — don’t put up feeders in accessible locations until the bears have gone to sleep and remember to take them down in the spring.
Bubba your comment make more sense then the rambling’s of Jos.
Oh … and if you are interested in counting the birds at your feeders, check out Project Feederwatch:
Bubba, I will add to your concept of Squirrel proof feeder. I built a squirrel feeder ( I know, dumb) and I put it at my carport so I could take pictures of the furry little critters. Well, wouldn’t yuh know, them rascals went and hid their nuts in my air cleaner and all the way to the intake on my vehicle. Wasn’t fun, thought they got further. Needless to say, the mechanic was laughing when he gave me the bill, then I sorta slunk away………….
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