If you’re one of the 43 percent of households that feed birds, then you might want to read some interesting facts published by Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. They focus on the study, appreciation, and conservation of birds so you can count on their research and accuracy with regard to their facts.
For the complete article, read Bird Notes from Cornell.
Bird Food Choices
The main reason that most people take a break from feeding birds in the spring and summer is because birds are quite busy finding an endless supply of insects and spiders. This diet is extremely nutritious. But fall and winter, the insect activities decline and birds need to rely on a diet of fruits and seeds. But those pickins get slim which is why we’re encouraged to feed birds seed to get them through the winter.
Which Seed is Best?
According to Cornell, “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.) Cornell has performed their own Seed Preference Test and it shows overwhelmingly that this high-energy food is the flock-pleasing favorite of the majority of bids that visit feeders.
Another study shows that “corn” (dried, whole-kernel corn) is a favorite food for jays, pigeons, doves, quail, and pheasants. It’s also the least expensive of all birdseed.
And one additional study showed that most ground-feeding birds prefer while millet or red milo to black-oil sunflower seed.
Additional High-Energy Foods
Plain beef suet that you find at the supermarket is an excellent high-energy food. Put it in a mesh bag (an onion bag works). Peanut butter is another favorite of chickadees, woodpeckers, and nuthatches.
Certain Birds Like Fruit
Birds such as robins, thrushes, bluebirds, and waxwings don’t usually show up at feeders because seeds are not the main component in their diet. Soften dried raisins and currents by soaking them in water and placing them at your feeding station will delight them.
Don’t Forget Water
Giving birds a dependable supply of fresh water will keep birds coming. Not only do they need to drink, but they need to bathe. Clean feathers provide the best insulation. Consider an immersion-style water heater in your birdbath and save yourself the hassle of keeping it unfrozen.
If you would like to read more information about attracting birds to your backyard, read our blog on attracting birds.
And if you want a fun project to do with children, make bird seed ornaments or feeders using these recipes and instructions from the Cornell lab of Ornithology.
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