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Bird feeding


Feeding birds is one of the most popular hobbies in the United States. Its popularity stems from these three elements.

  • Birds are colorful and fun to watch.
  • Feeding birds is low-tech. Anyone can do it.
  • Feeding birds is low cost.


How To Videos

Perky-Pet has an excellent selection of How To videos related to various aspects of feeding and attracting birds. If you are new to feeding or watching birds you’ll find the information fun and informative.


The Frugal Bird Feeder

Anyone can enjoy feeding and watching birds. Here are a few tips from the Frugal Feeder to get you started.

Window ledge
Brick homes often have a narrow window ledge extending out from the edge of the home. This ledge serves nicely as a platform feeder. Sprinkle once a day with sunflower chips to attract juncos, cardinals and mockingbirds.

You may need to start by spreading a few chips on the ground, near the window. After the birds find the food on the window ledge you can stop feeding on the ground.

This approach has the advantage of bringing the birds up close, so they can be studied and enjoyed. The use of sunflower chips eliminates most clean up requirements. You may need to rinse the window ledge on occasion.

Peanut butter
Many bird species love peanut butter. Here are some tips on using it.

  • Purchase the largest, cheapest jar of peanut butter you can find.
  • Mix in a little corn meal to thicken up the peanut butter.
  • Spread on a tree trunk or limb.
  • Enjoy the birds.

This will attract woodpeckers, some sparrows, nuthatches, wrens, and some warbler species, as well as cardinals and mockingbirds.

A feeder can be made by drilling holes in a board or dead limb. Hang the board or limb and fill with the peanut butter mix.

Check the Attracting Birds section for low-cost suet recipes that are even more popular with the birds.

Best Bird Feeding Seeds and Feeders

Best seed:  Black oil sunflower.
Black oil sunflower is the best all around choice.  It has a thin shell making it easy for smaller birds to enjoy.  It also has a relatively large seed kernel. Feeding sunflower hearts (the seed without the shell) or sunflower chips eliminates the need to clean up seed hulls.

Best alternate bird food choice:  Suet cakes.
Suet cakes are sold in squares.  They are easy to use, inexpensive and attract a variety of species, including cardinals, jays, nuthatches, titmice, chickadees, wrens and others.  Offer in a wire cage or upside down suet feeder.

Best bird feeder style:
There is not a single best bird feeder style.  Platform feeders, tube feeders and hopper feeders all have their advantages and disadvantages.  The quality of the materials and design features are more important than the style.  For example, tube feeders should be easy to clean, both top and bottom, use UV resistant materials and be squirrel resistant.  Visit the Feeders section for detailed information on bird feeder selection.


Identifying Birds at your Bird Feeder

Being able to recognize the birds you see is a key step in learning to attract more birds, as well as a greater diversity of species. Different species prefer different kinds of food. With a little knowledge, you will be able to customize your feeding program to make it even more successful.

You will need a good pair of binoculars and a field guide to help you with this process. It may take a little time to develop your identification skills so patience is a virtue. As you learn to identify birds, and become familiar with their habits, you will be able to expand your feeding program in the most effective manner.

To learn more

You can learn more about attracting birds by visiting these two sections of the web site.



About the Author

Sam Crowe

Sam is the founder of He has been birding for over 30 years and has a world list of over 2000 species. He has served as treasurer of the Texas Ornithological Society, Sanctuary Chair of Dallas Audubon, Editor of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's "All About Birds" web site and as a contributing editor for Birding Business magazine. Many of his photographs and videos can be found on the site.

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