Hungry Birds Eat the World's Spiciest Food
Hungry Birds: How to Feed and Attract Them to Your Backyard
If you love watching and listening to the colorful and melodious birds in your backyard, you might want to consider feeding them. Feeding birds is a rewarding and enjoyable hobby that can bring you closer to nature and provide many benefits for both you and the birds. However, feeding birds also comes with some challenges and responsibilities that you need to be aware of. In this article, we will guide you through the basics of bird feeding, including what to feed them, how to choose the right type of feeder, how to maintain and clean your feeder, and how to support bird conservation.
Why feed birds in your backyard?
Benefits of bird feeding
Feeding birds in your backyard can have many positive effects for both you and the birds. Here are some of the benefits of bird feeding:
It can attract a variety of bird species to your yard, increasing your chances of seeing rare or unusual birds.
It can provide supplemental food for birds during harsh weather conditions or when natural food sources are scarce.
It can help birds conserve energy and survive predators by reducing their need to search for food elsewhere.
It can enhance your enjoyment and appreciation of nature by allowing you to observe bird behavior and learn about their habits and personalities.
It can improve your mental and physical health by reducing stress, boosting mood, stimulating curiosity, and providing opportunities for exercise and social interaction.
Challenges of bird feeding
Feeding birds in your backyard can also pose some challenges and risks for both you and the birds. Here are some of the challenges of bird feeding:
It can attract unwanted visitors such as squirrels, rats, raccoons, cats, hawks, or bears that can steal or contaminate the food, damage the feeder, or harm the birds.
It can create unhealthy conditions for birds if the feeder is not cleaned regularly or if the food is spoiled or moldy.
It can spread diseases or parasites among birds if they congregate in large numbers or come into contact with infected food or feces.
It can alter the natural behavior or distribution of birds if they become dependent on human-provided food or if they migrate less or breed more.
It can conflict with local laws or regulations that prohibit or restrict feeding certain types of birds or using certain types of feeders.
To overcome these challenges, you need to follow some best practices and guidelines for bird feeding, which we will discuss in the following sections.
What do birds eat and prefer?
Seed preferences by bird species
The most common and convenient food for backyard birds is seeds. Seeds are high in energy and easy to store and offer. However, not all seeds are equally attractive or nutritious for all birds. Different bird species have different preferences and adaptations for eating seeds. For example, some birds have strong bills that can crack open hard shells, while others have slender bills that can extract tiny seeds from flowers. Some birds prefer oily seeds that provide more calories, while others prefer starchy seeds that provide more carbohydrates.
To attract the most variety of birds to your backyard, you should offer a mix of seeds that can appeal to different tastes and needs. Here are some of the most popular seeds and the birds that prefer them:
Cardinals, chickadees, finches, grosbeaks, jays, nuthatches, sparrows, titmice, woodpeckers
Cardinals, grosbeaks, jays, woodpeckers
Cardinals, chickadees, doves, grosbeaks, sparrows
Finches, redpolls, siskins
Doves, juncos, sparrows, towhees
Ducks, geese, jays, pheasants, quail, turkeys
Bluebirds, chickadees, jays, nuthatches, titmice, woodpeckers
Varies depending on the ingredients and proportions of the mix
Note that some seeds may also attract unwanted visitors such as squirrels or starlings. To deter them, you can use specialized feeders that have baffles or weight-sensitive perches that prevent access to the seeds. You can also use seeds that have been treated with hot pepper or capsaicin, which birds can tolerate but mammals cannot.
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Alternative foods for birds
Seeds are not the only food that you can offer to backyard birds. Some birds may prefer other types of food that can provide more protein, fat, vitamins, or minerals. Here are some of the alternative foods that you can offer to birds:
Fruits: Apples, bananas, berries, cherries, grapes, melons, oranges, pears. These can attract fruit-eating birds such as bluebirds, orioles, robins, tanagers, and waxwings.
Nectar: Sugar water or commercial nectar mix. These can attract nectar-feeding birds such as hummingbirds and orioles.
Mealworms: Live or dried mealworms. These can attract insect-eating birds such as bluebirds, chickadees, robins, wrens, and woodpeckers.
Suet: Beef fat or commercial suet cakes. These can attract fat-loving birds such as chickadees, nuthatches, titmice, woodpeckers.
Bread: Stale bread or breadcrumbs. These can attract seed-eating birds such as sparrows and finches.
Cheese: Grated cheese or cheese scraps. These can attract cheese-loving birds such as jays and wrens.
Eggs: Boiled eggs or eggshells. These can attract protein-seeking birds such as robins and thrushes.
Pet food: Dry or moist cat or dog food. These can attract omnivorous birds such as crows and jays.
Foods to avoid for birds
While most foods that are safe for humans are also safe for birds, there are some foods that you should never offer to backyard birds. These foods can be toxic, harmful, or unhealthy for birds. Here are some of the foods that you should avoid for birds:
Chocolate: Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, or death in birds.
Avocado: Avocado contains persin, which can cause respiratory distress, heart failure, or death in birds.
Onion and garlic: Onion and garlic contain thiosulphate, which can cause anemia or death in birds.
Salt: Salt can cause dehydration, kidney damage, or death in birds.
Alcohol: Alcohol can cause intoxication, liver damage, or death in birds.
Caffeine: Caffeine can cause hyperactivity, cardiac arrhythmia, or death in birds.
Xylitol: Xylitol is a sugar substitute that can cause hypoglycemia, liver failure, or death in birds.
Moldy or spoiled food: Moldy or spoiled food can contain bacteria, fungi, or toxins that can cause infections, poisoning, or death in birds.
To ensure the safety and health of your backyard birds, you should always check the ingredients and expiration dates of the foods that you offer to them. You should also remove any uneaten food from the feeder before it spoils or attracts pests.
How to choose the right type of bird feeder?
The type of bird feeder that you use can affect the number and variety of birds that visit your backyard. Different bird feeders have different advantages and disadvantages depending on the type of food, the size and shape of the feeder, the location and height of the feeder, and the protection and accessibility of the feeder. Here are some of the most common types of bird feeders and their features:
Platform bird feeders
Platform bird feeders are simple and versatile feeders that consist of a flat surface with a raised edge that can hold any type of food. They can be placed on the ground, on a pole, or hung from a tree. Platform bird feeders can attrac