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Feeding Frenzy: What You Need To Know For Backyard Birds

Black-capped chickadees are common feeder birds in our area.
Black-capped chickadees are common feeder birds in our area. Photo Credit: William Haffey

Feeding birds is a hobby enjoyed by millions of Americans and winter is a perfect time to join the fun.

As birds’ natural food sources become scarce during the colder months, you can provide them with a wide variety of delectable treats to make the season a bit less difficult.

A wide variety of bird feeders exist, from simple “platform” type feeders to elaborate tube and hopper shaped ones designed to foil squirrels. Your choice of feeder style is also dependent upon the type of feed you wish to offer and the birds you are looking to attract.

Black oil sunflower seed is a favorite of a wide variety of species, and can be used in a hanging feeder, on a platform, or even scattered on the ground. For no-mess bird feeding, used hulled sunflower seeds, while millet is perfect for attracting ground feeders like doves, juncos, and sparrows.

Suet, or animal fat formed into a hardened cake and suspended in a cage-type feeder, is perfect for drawing woodpeckers, wrens, and even Yellow-rumped Warblers.

The primary obstacle faced by those who feed birds is the ubiquitous gray squirrel. Not only do squirrels frighten smaller birds from the feeder, but they consume large quantities of expensive seed at an almost endless rate. Perhaps the simplest way to exclude these furry intruders is to purchase a squirrel proof feeder. There are several fine models available, and, though pricey, will easily make up the cost of constantly refilling a typical feeder.

Another prevention method is using a baffle. Either a metal cone or cylinder can be placed around the staff of a typical “shepherd’s crook” so squirrels cannot ascend the pole. Be sure the unwanted intruders cannot jump from surrounding limbs, and your birdseed will be safe for your feathered guests.

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