Whether you are a die-hard birdwatcher or a more casual observer that simply enjoys watching birds in your yard, setting up a bird feeding station is a great way to enjoy the birds. With the Labor Day weekend behind us, the time to implement your winter bird-feeding plan has arrived.
Migration is underway and birds are moving in search of a suitable location to spend the difficult winter months. For some birds that means head south, but for others it just means it is time to find a reliable food supply.
Establishing your feeding program now allows resident birds like cardinals, blue jays and chickadees to find your feeding station. The activity those birds create attract others as they move through the area.
It may take several years for your yard to gain a reputation among the birds, so don’t be frustrated if during your first year of feeding birds you don’t see a lot of activity. Stick to it and the birds will eventually find you.
Here are three basic rules if you want to see the greatest number of birds in your yard. Not only have I enjoyed feeding birds for many years, I’ve had the opportunity to visit other yards that attract birds and there seems to be some common factors.
Rule 1: Diversity of habitat improves the number and variety of birds. For those who are fortunate to live in a habitat rich situation, it requires little work. For those who have a small or tidy yard, the situation can be improved with bird friendly landscaping. At the very least the situation can be improved by building a small brush pile of branches or discarded Christmas trees near your feeders.
Rule 2: Provide a variety of foods in a variety of ways. Though it would be easy to list a huge assortment of food choices, I would suggest starting out with the basics of thistle seed (also called nyjer seed), black sunflower seed and suet in the form of suet cakes or suet chunks hung in suet bags. Though some of the birdseed mixtures attract a variety of birds, avoid the cheaper brands, as they tend to contain a lot of waste seed that birds won’t eat.
Rule 3: Make sure your feeders are convenient enough to keep them filled regardless of weather. Once the feeders are established and the cold of winter sets in, it is critical that the feeding be maintained. Stop feeding them at a critical time and the birds might die. If you take a vacation, ask somebody to come by and fill your feeders. If you head south after the holidays, I would suggest not beginning a feeding program.
An established feeding station can attract dozens of species over the course of a winter. Watching them can provide hours of enjoyment and help break the monotony of feeling trapped indoors during the winter cold. If you have questions on how to start, email me and I’ll be happy to help you. It’s a great hobby!