Bird feeding is an easy and rewarding hobby, and these five easy steps to get started feeding birds can help any beginning backyard birder attract a hungry flock right to their door.
5 Steps for Feeding Birds
1. Learn Your Local Birds
The first step in successful bird feeding is to learn what birds are hungry in your area. Purchase a local or regional field guide to identify birds that already visit the trees, shrubs or flowers in your neighborhood, and browse similar birds to see what other birds may be nearby. You can also learn local birds by asking at a wild bird store or checking to see if your neighbors feed the birds. By learning your local birds, you will know what types of food to offer to attract them to your yard.
2. Choose Bird Feeders
The easiest bird feeders to satisfy many species include hopper, platform and tube feeders, all of which can offer a variety of different foods. Other feeders to consider are mesh socks for small finches and nectar feeders for hummingbirds and orioles. When choosing feeders, also consider local conditions such as weather and potential pests. If you are in an area with a lot of rain, for example, choose a covered feeder to keep seed dry, or if your yard is frequently visited by squirrels, opt for a feeder with squirrel-resistant features.
3. Choose Bird Seed and Other Foods
The most important step when you get started feeding birds is to offer the right food. There are several types of birdseed that are suitable, including black oil sunflower seeds, millet and Nyjer. To feed woodpeckers, offer suet, and to feed jays offer whole nuts. Hummingbirds will drink nectar, while orioles will eat grape jelly, fruit and nectar. For a varied backyard flock, offer a range of foods to attract many different species.
4. Put Up Feeders Conveniently
Birds won't visit feeders they can't find, and you aren't likely to refill feeders that are inconvenient. Place feeders near good shelter or water sources for birds so they will find them, and be sure the feeders are safe from hawks, feral cats and other potential predators. Keep the feeders easily placed so you can refill them as necessary – many backyard birders prefer to place feeders near patios or porches not only for convenience, but also to watch the birds feed.
5. Maintain Bird Feeders
Once you have started feeding the birds, it is essential to take care of your bird feeders. Refill the feeders whenever the seed is running low, and keep the feeders clean to avoid spreading diseases among different birds. Check the feeders regularly for damage that might injure birds or make the feeders less effective. Store birdseed properly and know how to check for spoiled birdseed so you are always offering the most nutritious food to your backyard birds.
Above all, be patient. It can take several weeks for birds to discover a new bird feeder and learn to count on it as a reliable food source. If after six weeks your feeder is still not attracting birds, check the seed quality and feeder position and consider changing to a different feeder style that is more open and noticeable for local birds. With patience and perseverance, it is possible for anyone to attract and feed a beautiful flock of backyard birds.
Photo – Feeding Pine Siskins © Putneypics