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The Blog: Let's Talk Gardening

The Nature-Friendly Garden

Birds feed, nest and relax in our nature-friendly garden.
by Kathy Van Mullekom, a lifelong gardener and gardening writer living in York County, Virginia

Our yard is designed and planted for birds – lots of them.

In addition to trees and shrubs that benefit songbirds, the yard features feeders and nesting boxes that invite them to live with us.

For food, there’s a meal worm feeder for bluebirds, nut feeder for woodpeckers, thistle feeder for finches, safflower feeder for cardinals and black oil sunflower seed and suet feeders for anyone and everyone.

Overripe blueberries, apple bits and orange and banana slices are available in a fly-through feeder. All feeders are caged or baffled to keep out intruders like squirrels and raccoons.

This time of year, the birds really begin to depend on the feeders because most natural seeds, berries and insects are gone, which means my feeders need filling daily.

Here’s what our birds like best:

  • Mealworms -- bluebirds.
  • Sunflower meats -- bluebirds, warblers, robins and woodpeckers.
  • Sunflower -- chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, cardinals, grosbeaks, sparrows, blackbirds and jays.
  • White millet -- ground-feeding birds like towhees, juncos, song sparrows, doves and Indigo bunting.
  • Safflower -- cardinal, chickadees and titmice.
  • Nyger, or thistle -- finches.
  • Corn -- jays.
  • Suet -- most birds; woodpeckers especially like peanut-filled suet.

If you would like to learn more about local birds, there are two good birding clubs – the Williamsburg Bird Club at and Hampton Roads Bird Club at Each offers interesting monthly programs as well as regular birding walks.

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