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The Blog: Let's Talk Gardening

A Little Birdy Told Me


Beauty in the garden comes from more than just plants, it also comes from the creatures that make the garden their home. Winter is our favorite time to sit back in the warmth of our homes and watch the birds flutter about. Did you know that certain types of seed will attract specific birds to your yard?

The choices in bird food are enormous, but look for a simple mixture of seed -- black oil sunflower is the favorite of seed-consuming birds and should be the largest ingredient in the bag you purchase. Check the label contents, seeds will be listed according to the most volume. Black stripe sunflower, white proso millet, sunflower chips or hearts, and nuts such as peanuts, almonds or filberts are the basis of all feeders. White proso millet doesn't belong in a seed mix because the birds that like millet prefer to eat it on the ground. The feeder birds will throw it on the ground as planned, but this will empty your feeder a lot faster than you want. There are so many fun ways to invite the birds to your yard, here's some simple things you can do:

  • Sparrows, Juncos, Towhees and Doves prefer millet and eating close to the ground.
  • Chickadees, Titmice, Nuthatches and Woodpeckers prefer peanuts and it is better to place them in a feeder alone. Avoid peanut hearts in your mix as they attract Starlings, considered a pest at all feeders!
  • Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, House Finches, and especially Cardinals love safflower seed when presented alone.
  • Nyjer, commonly called thistle, attracts Goldfinch, Pine Siskin, Redpolls and Purple Finch. Keep this feeder away from the other feeders as Goldfinches prefer privacy.
  • Other treats birds enjoy are fruit. Orioles love oranges. Slice the fruit and spear it on a fence post for a cheap fruit feeder. There are commercial fruit feeders available, and some have a little cup to add grape jelly, another Oriole favorite. Apples and bananas are attractive to many species of birds especially Robins. Mockingbirds and Gray Catbirds love raisins. Their favorite way to be served is soaking them in warm water overnight then drain them well before putting them out.
  • Titmice love almonds, and Woodpeckers love shelled walnuts and pecans. Most of the larger nuts will not pass through the seed dispenser of all style of birdfeeders, so use a platform feeder.
  • Suet is great year-around for Woodpeckers, Nuthatches, Chickadees, Titmice, Gray Catbirds and even Pine Warbler. Suet is not processed, so it will not become rancid.
  • Bread and human food is not recommended for bird food. Bread has little nutritional value to birds. They have a different metabolism than humans and may not be able to digest the chemicals used in some human food.
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