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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Winter Bird Feeding - Suet, Seed or Peanuts

During the spring and summer, the diet of many songbirds and other birds is mainly of insects and spiders. These tiny creepy, crawly creatures are highly nutritious, abundant, and, for the most part, easily captured by the birds.

During fall and winter, however, nonmigratory birds must shift their diets to fruits and seeds to survive. This is the time of year when a winter bird-feeding enthusiast should roll get ready to lend a hand The question is, what to serve the little feathery visitors?

Wild Bird Stores (online and offline) are stocked; with bags, buckets, and cakes of many bird food types. It can be a bit confusing. One way to attracting a diversity of bird species is to provide a variety of food types, but that doesn’t mean you need to purchase one of everything in the store.

Different birds prefer different types of seeds, but the seeds that attract the greatest number of species are black-oil sunflower. These seeds have a high meat-to-shell ratio, they are nutritious and high in fat, and their small size and thin shells make them easy for small birds to handle and crack. (Striped sunflower seeds are larger and have a thicker seed coat.)
Black Oil sunflower seeds are a high-energy food and is a favorite of the majority of birds that visit feeders. Dried, whole-kernel corn, a favorite food for jays, pigeons and doves, quail, and pheasants is probably the least expensive of all bird seeds.

Cracked corn, however, is easier to eat for blackbirds, finches, and sparrows.

“Millet” comes in red and white varieties, but most birds prefer white proso millet over red. “Nyjer,” or thistle seed, is a delicacy for small finches such as goldfinches, siskins, and redpolls.

Because nyjer seeds are small and expensive, it’s best to offer them in a special nyjer feeder, whichhas tiny ports that prevent the seeds from spilling out. Safflower is another seed that many birds like – most notably, cardinals.



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