I was young when I was first introduced to watching birds.
My grandmother ran a seasonal business which opened in May and closed in November. During those summer months she spent very little daylight hours in her home. When winter came, she and my grandfather spent many hours getting caught up with household chores and duties.
Many a snowy winter day at gram's house was spent eating a lunch of fried egg sandwiches or perhaps a hot bowl of cream of mushroom soup. We'd watch [black and white] television programs, (which were nowhere near sophisticated as today) or we might play a game of rummy with Grampa. On a day when the icicles hung off the eaves of the roof, she'd get out her ice cream maker and make homemade ice cream!
But most memorable on a day visiting my grandparents was the twitter of wild birds feeding at my grandmother's window.
The window ledge was sunny and wide. I never saw a traditional bird feeder at her house, but she always placed a tin pie plate full of birdseed on the ledge of the outside windowsill.
It was so much fun to watch the birds!
The birds would perch on the side of the pie plate and break apart the seed. Sometimes there would be wild fights between the birds.
I didn't know the names of any of the birds at the time, except maybe the blue jay. But as I grew older and could pick up her bird identifying book laying close by on the table, I gradually learned that there were many different types of birds in this world.
And they were all very interesting to get to know and watch!
So, are you ready to feed your wild birds?
Obviously, the birds aren't particular about what kind of bird feeder you put out for them. But there are a few tips and a few bird feeder choices to consider.
Your choice of bird feeder will determine what kind of bird visits your bird feeder.
- A platform bird feeder will attract the most variety of wild birds. However, a platform birdfeeder (such as my grandmother's pie plate) doesn't offer much by way of protection from rain, snow and (yes) the dreaded cat! However, because platform feeders are open and can be placed on the ground, some larger wild birds such as doves and pigeons will likely make a visit to your platform feeder. Squirrels and other wildlife may visit a platform bird feeder.
- One of the most common types of bird feeders (and usually inexpensive) is the hopper-type bird feeder. The features of a hopper bird feeder are a platform with sides and a roof. The seed is contained within the confines of the "hopper." You usually are able to see your birdseed so that you can see when your feeder needs to be refilled. A hopper bird feeder offers some protection from the weather - but if the seed gets wet, you will need to dump out the spoiled seed and replace with fresh. This type of bird feeder also offers little protection from squirrels.
There are many different types of wild bird feeders that also cater to specific birds such as hummingbirds, finches, and woodpeckers.
Tips for Feeding Wild Birds
- Keep your seed fresh by keeping it in a cool dry place. Remember, heat and moisture will encourage mold. If your bird seed shows signs of mold, throw it away and start fresh.
- Store your seed in a "rodent-resistant" container. Rodents such as squirrels, chipmunks, mice and even rats love bird seed! Some rodents may even chew through plastic to get to the seed.
- In some parts of the country, bears will also feast on bird seed. If you live in an area where there have been bear sightings, seed should be stored within a structure such as a shed or garage.
- Many birds love fruit. But skip any food that contains chocolate. As in dogs and cats, chocolate contains toxins that will harm your birds.
- Never add food coloring to your hummingbird or oriole nectars. If you make your nectar from scratch, it's important to follow the recipe. Here is a recipe to make your own hummingbird nectar and oriole nectar.