Get Started With the Bird Feeding Basics

  • Feeding the birds can be as simple as placing seed in your yard and waiting for them to find it.
  • Feeders come in a wide variety of materials and styles. There are hopper feeders, tray feeders, suet feeders, tube feeders and specialty feeders designed to supply bird food to birds.
  • Our backyard birds will feed at different preferred elevations based on the species 
  • You can offer three basic feeding preferences which will cover the variety of birds we will see at our backyard bird feeders

This is a high level basic introduction to backyard bird feeding. Each topic can be covered in much greater depth. To get further details please refer to other webpages. If you cannot find the additional information you need please contact one of our Certified Backyard Bird Feeding Specialists by email, [email protected] or you can call the store 416-233-3558.

Birds Feeding on the Ground
If you are interested in feeding birds on the ground level, you should use a seed blend high in millet, which is designed to attract ground-feeding birds such as Mourning Doves, White-throated Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos. A covered tray feeder will work best for these birds.

Birds Feeding at the Feeder
If you are interested in feeding birds at elevated levels, use a seed blend that contains seeds such as black oil sunflower, hulled sunflower, roasted no-shell peanuts, striped sunflower, safflower. These types of seed blends are designed to attract birds such as Northern Cardinals, Black-capped Chickadees, Red and White Breasted Nuthatches, Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers, House Finch and Goldfinch. These birds will feed at hanging feeders and mounted feeders

Birds Feeding at the Feeder and on the Ground
If you are interested in feeding birds at both ground and elevated levels, use a seed blend designed to attract a variety of birds that feed at both levels and which contains millet, black oil sunflower, hulled sunflower, roasted no-shell peanuts, striped sunflower, safflower . These blends tend to attract the greatest variety of birds to any one feeding station including: Mourning Doves, White-throated Sparrows, Dark-eyed Juncos, Northern Cardinals, Black-capped Chickadees, Red and White Breasted Nuthatches, Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers, House Finch and Goldfinch. A combination of hanging, mounted and ground level feeders will work best for these birds.

Things to remember when getting started
If you have not yet been feeding birds in your backyard, it may take from one day to several months before the birds in your area discover your new feeder. Be patient and consider the following:

  • It is important that you use a seed type or seed blend based on the birds in your area
  • Birds generally find their food by sight. Placing your feeder where it will be visible to them should decrease the time it takes for birds to start feeding.
  • Sometimes sprinkling some seed on the ground or on top of the feeder will let the birds know that you are open for business.
  • Remember to keep your feeders clean and change the seed at least once per month if the birds have not begun eating.
  • It is good to understand what kind of backyard habitat you have and what birds you might attract depending on the season. There are also situations that exist (squirrels, starlings, sparrows, pigeons etc.) that may increase or decrease the enjoyment you receive from bird watching. Birds may be challenged by problems (house cats and birds of prey) while trying to feed at feeders.

Bird Feeding Habitat Strategy
If birds find a relatively safe habitat with fresh food and water, chances are they will come back – frequently. The best way to attract a variety of birds is by providing the following four elements to create a habitat that will attract them:

Food: Provide different types of bird feeders, offering a variety of foods and placing the bird feeders where birds prefer to feed. Birds that prefer to feed on the ground are referred to as ground-feeding birds. Other birds that like to cling or hang while feeding prefer to feed from elevated feeders.

There are many varieties of specialized bird feeders available, but most fall into three basic categories:

Ground-feeding trays or platform feeders.
Elevated feeders such as hopper feeders and tube feeders.
Suet feeders.
By providing bird feeders that recreate the natural feeding preference of birds, you will attract a greater variety of birds to your backyard throughout the year. You can provide fruit and nectar feeders for nectar eating birds. You can add suet feeders for insect eating birds. Peanut feeders will attract a variety of birds such as titmice, nuthatches and woodpeckers.

Shelter: Birds need protective cover just like people need the shelter of a house. Cover can be provided in many forms such as special plantings, hollow logs, and brush piles. Plants that bear a fruit for food are the best. The ideal bird habitat would include plants ranging in size and density from small evergreen shrubs, fruit and seed bearing shrubs to tall full-grown trees. This variety will provide birds a choice for feeding, hiding, courting and nesting.

Water: Water is important for the survival of birds in the summer and the winter. Birds need a dependable year-round water source for drinking and bathing. Water can be supplied in a bird bath, small pool, recirculating waterfall, shallow dish or from a dripping hose. You can use a heated birdbath in the winter months.

Places To Raise Young: With more and more destruction of the natural habitat, many birds are having trouble finding places to nest. By providing nesting boxes, you will encourage birds to raise their young in your backyard and stay in your area all year. You’ll enjoy watching the family life of birds while providing the badly needed shelter.

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