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Bird Feeding Tips

Tips on attracting and feeding backyard birds.

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Wild Bird Feeding 201

Posted by on in Attracting and feeding wild birds
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Wild Bird Feeding 201

If you are reading this, you probably already know how much fun it is to feed wild birds. But knowing what kind of food to use and where to place it will greatly enhance your bird-feeding experience. Not all birds have the same needs, so offering quality seed in  several feeding styles will go a long way toward helping you increase the number and variety of birds visiting your yard and feeding  station.

Seed Suggestions
More than any single seed, black-oil sunflower seeds appeal to the widest variety of birds. White Proso millet is especially attractive to birds which like to feeder on the ground. Specialty seeds such as Nyjer (aka thistle) is highly-preferred by beautiful Goldfinches. Peanuts are especially attractive to woodpeckers, chickadees and nuthatches.

Platform Feeders
A platform feeder, whether placed on the ground or elevated on a pole, offers a large landing area to accommodate birds of all shapes and sizes. These feeders are great places to serve millet and whole peanuts for Blue Jays and even pieces of fruit for Mockingbirds. Ground-feeding birds such as juncos, native sparrows and Mourning Doves love this feeder type.


b2ap3_thumbnail_CHICK-012.jpgBlack-capped or Carolina Chickadee? Difficult to tell from the photo.  Black-capped has more white on the wings than Carolina.

Hopper Feeders
A hopper feeder features a seed container or “hopper”, typically constructed with two clear sides so that you can monitor seed consumption. Seed flows from the bottom of the hopper onto a tray where it is eaten. Many people like this feeder type because it stores several pounds of seed and visiting birds are easy to watch.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Cardinal_Feeder.jpgNorthern Cardinal

Tube Feeders
Tube-style feeders especially when filled with black-oil sunflower seed, are ideally suited for attracting smaller birds, these perches are harder for large birds to use while smaller species such as chickadees, titmice, nuthatches and finches feel right at home.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Goldfinch-pair-upsidedown-Anne-West-062712.jpgAmerican Goldfinch


White-breasted Nuthatch

Suet Feeders
A suet feeder is usually a square basket made of wire. It is designed to hold a suet cake (rendered fat) which contains protein and fats to supply birds with quick energy. A suet feeder will attract not only chickadees and nuthatches but insect-eating birds such as flickers, Downy, Red-bellied and Pileated Woodpeckers. Peanut feeders (similar in construction) will appeal to many of the same birds which like suet.


Red-bellied Woodpecker

Bird Watching Suggestions
Once your feeders are placed in your yard, you are likely to attract 15 to 20 seed and suet-eating species plus you can observe other bird behaviors such as bathing and drinking from a bird bath or nesting in bird houses you can place on trees and fence posts.

Local wild bird specialty retail stores are a good source for more information, including opportunities to join a bird walk to see many other birds such as hawks, ducks and geese. 

I am delighted to join the Birdzilla team through this blog, sharing ideas and topics related to feeding and attracting wild birds in your backyard. Bird feeding is my life-long passion,  instilled by bird-feeding parents who raised me on an 80-acre farm in central Michigan.  After college, my wife and I served as U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer high-school teachers in Africa and then as staff members over an eight-year period.
Those wonderful times led to 30-years of bird-feeding leadership as founder of the Wild Bird Centers, franchising and supporting wild bird specialty stores across the country. I helped found the Bird Education Network and was a key financial supporter of PROJECT WILDBIRD, I currently serve as Executive Director of the National Bird-Feeding Society. Several years ago, I was asked to join “The Birder’s Team”, a working group of birding leaders selected by the National Wildlife Refuge System to recommend ways to better serve birders. millions of whom visit our extraordinary network of more than 500 Refuges. These “conservation jewels” actively protect critical habitat and conserve bird populations of all kinds. Most recently, I served as a judge to select the winning artist for the NWRS’ 2015 Duck Stamp Contest.

I now look forward to helping our readers experience the best our wonderful hobby offers. As I often say “The closer we live to each other, the closer we want to be to Nature.”

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