Thursday, January 22, 2009

Let's Talk Food......Bird Food That Is

I thought this may be a fun topic to talk about. It is one of my favorite topics of all because it is something I can provide to the birds and know that I am helping them through this very long winter. You see, I love food. Whether it be food for me, food for the kids, food for the cats or food for the birds, it's all good. Food to me is nurturing. It means comfort and nutrition for not only the body, but for the soul. When my kids are sick, I want them to have chicken soup. When my cats are not eating, I tempt them with their favorite treats to make sure they are okay. When the birds are outside at my feeders, I go out there with more to make sure they have enough fuel in their bodies to survive another bitter night in the wild.

I started off quite modestly when I first started feeding my feathered friends. I bought some nyjer seed, BOSS and made nectar for the hummingbirds. All was well until the house sparrows and squirrels took over my yard and then I stopped feeding all together.

I started feeding again this late fall and started off modestly again, but all of that has since changed. This is what I have in my feeders now.

Black Oil Sun Flower Seed
Sunflower Heart Chips
Suet (both raw and made by me with lard and peanut butter)
Shelled peanut halves in a feeder
Whole peanuts in a shell on the ground

This is my occasional food
Fruit-Right now I have fresh blueberries and strawberries that are perched in the tree being held by an old clementine box.

Bread and dog kibble. This is for when I see seagulls and crows in my yard. I can't help but to feed them. They fly around my yard searching for food and they look so hungry. Out I go with the bread and dog kibble and they dive down and have a quick meal. They leave immediately afterwords and I won't see them again until the next early morning. They are the eat and run type I guess.

I also have my heated bird bath that gets filled with fresh water daily. All of this food management has since turned into a part time job. I spend on average 15 minutes a day preparing the bird food in their proper containers and then going out there to fill up the numerous feeders.

One must never forget the natural food that we can provide for wild life as well. I have my mulberry tree that brings me scores of birds in May, my wild blackberry that the cat birds devour, poke berries that I allow to fruit, the privet that the robins inhale and all of the weeds I allow to go to seed each fall. This is not enough you see because I planted holly this past summer and plan on planting two crab apple trees this spring. My end goal is all fruit that lasts through the winter so the birds have even more food especially when it's at its most scarce.

Well enough about me, how about you. What is it you offer to the birds. If you garden for wild life, what has been your most successful plantings as far as appetizing treats for birds and other critters. I would love to hear input from others because I need more ideas, especially when it comes to wild life gardening.



Steve B said...

My circumstances do not allow me to feed bird at this point in my life. When I do feed, I feed black oil sunflower seeds and thistle seeds for the finches and siskins. I have found that this combo keeps the house sparrow and starlings down. In the mountains of Colorado, Broad-tailed humming birds were the summer favorites at the humming bird feeders. In the fall, we would get the occasional Rufus Hummingbird through and it would be some fat male that would take over.

I also prefer unshelled seeds because they don’t spoil as fast. Soon I will be feeding birds again. It will be cool.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Great post, Kallen.. I like to hear what others are feeding their birds. I do almost the same thing that you do--except I haven't started the peanuts yet. I may do that soon--but right now, I'm spending a heck of alot of money as is..

I put out:
-Sunflower seeds
-Sunflower meats/hearts (much more expensive--but they love them)
-Safflower seeds--my birds love these; in fact, the Tufted seem to prefer them sometimes.
-Finch Blend (in a feeder)
-Nyger (thistle)--in a mesh bag
-Suet (that I bought at Lowe's)
-A seed bell which I coated with peanut butter

I have three hanging feeders, a covered house, an open plate-which they love, plus the suet feeder, the seed bell and the mesh bag!!!


Kallen305 said...

Steve, I hope you can feed the birds again real soon. I would love to see the photos you get with that fabulous camera of yours.

Betsy, cost is an issue for me as well, but the shelled peanuts seem to last a while. The thing I spend the most money on are the peanuts in the shell. I can't help it though because the blue jays wait for them every morning and get happy when I go out there with their fix. It is worth the cost just to see their reaction.

I tried safflower myself and had to stop feeding it because the house sparrows LOVE it. I was so ticked that they developed a fondness for it because I bought it solely for the fact that the other birds supposedly loved it but the pest birds and squirrels did not. That is not the case in my back yard unfortunetely. Very weird.

A New England Life said...

My goodness you really do go all out! What lucky birds and critters you have!

As you know I have the peanuts, which I love watching the birds devour each day! I also feed black oil sunflower seed and beef suet. That's it. And of course I have the heated bird bath. The birds sure do appeciate being able to get a drink on a cold winters day, don't they.

Looks like it will be another cold week-end coming up so our birds will be some of the lucky ones ; )


dAwN said...

Hi Kallen...
I am now catching up with all your posts that I have missed..
Because our yard differs according to where we park the motorhome...we dont always put the bird feeders out...but when we do I put out a hummingbird feeder...thistle seed in a sock...suet that I either make or buy..
and a sunflower mix with nuts and berries...
great topic! I look forward to seeing what others do... said...

I should do a post on what I feed as it has been trial and error over the past 4 years. But I mix my own for the different tree feeders. I also have 2 ground feeders with food for mourning doves, juncos and the mallards stop at night....

Ruth said...

I use one peanut feeder(shelled nuts), one thistle feeder, suet ball and a small container of black sunflower seeds a day. Some days I bring everything in if the squirrels and house sparrows are too aggressive.

Snowbabies said...

I feed a garden seed mix, sunflower hearts, nyger seed, fat balls, fat blocks, suet cake, suet pellets and dried mealworms. For unknown reason, despite many attempts, our feathered friends don't like peanuts.


Kallen305 said...

Sharon, I love the fact that you posted about peanuts because that's what gave me the idea to offer them to the birds.

Dawn, I think its neat that you have your own little traveling food station for the birds.

Rambling, do you get a lot of mallards and if so do they feed at night or during the day?

Ruth, I feel your frustration with having to bring things in due to the pests. I don't mind them eating, but they have to be civil about it. If not, in it comes for a while.

Snowbabies, I am very impressed with your offerings. Where do you get your meal worms from? I have often thought about offering that, but I am not sure which birds would find it appealing besides blue birds which I don't have.

Jayne said...

Kallen, you pretty much have it covered. :c) I feed a seed mix in a large screen feeder, thistle in a 3.5 pound feeder, suet and suet dough, peanuts in a peanut feeder, and occasionally a treat of fruit and nut mix (expensive stuff).

troutbirder said...

My goodness your birds are well fed. I'm now feeling guilty. Need to give this subject some more thought!

Leedra said...
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Leedra said...

I didn't see Safflower seed on your list. I mix safflower, sunflower chips cup for cup then add twice that amount of black sunflower seeds. Throw just a little of the cheap stuff with it, but not much.

I have found the birds do love the Safflower, but I read some where they have to acquire the taste for it. Doesn't seem to take my birds long to do that.

Squirrels won't eat Safflower.

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Rich said...

Good post! I bounce around too much so not feeding critters. The work week is almost over, hope it warms up a bit for you.

Deborah Godin said...

When I lived out west, we had a great bird supply store, but nothing like it here. I used to buy bags of shelled sunflower seeds in winter. It was more expensive, but there was no mess, and no filler seed either. I also got mixed bags and niger to go with. I also used to buy cakes of pure suet, but can't get them here either, it all has seed mixed in, and very little actual suet, I'm thinking! The one thing I've heard not to feed is straight peanut butter. Perhaps mixed in with suet like you do is okay, but the bird store where I shopped in Alberta said it's too gummy and sticky around bird's beaks, and they can't clean it off readlily like they can suet crumbs, and it can be a breeding ground for bacteria to make the birds sick. Same with hummingbird feeders. They are really high maintenance in order not to breed bacteria or fermentation to hurt the birds. I used to have several, one to hang and others to be in the process of being sterilized. I see people around where I live now who hang hummer feeders and I don't think they change or clean them all summer! Maybe they think they are helping the birds by feeding them, but if the fluid is toxic, the birds can die. This will be my 4th summer here, but the first to try hummer feeders. I'm going to hang a basket of flowers and put the feeder near it in the shade. they say hanging in direct sun speeds up the breakdown of the syrup, and you have to change it more often. That's about all the lore I've picked up here and there. I'm interested in attracting and feeding fruit to orioles this year, too, if you have any advice on that.


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