Not everyone will be blessed with all sixteen
Habitat Components on their property. This does not mean that
introducing as many as possible will not enhance wildlife. The
key is to understant each of the components, what they are, how they
assist in nature and what wildlife will be assisted by their
Feeders - These are used
to provide easy access to supplemental food for wildlife. Does
wildlife become dependant on them? No. Some however, may
become pests as we will discuss later. You should never at any time feed bears, coyotes,
bobcats or any other large mammal! Wildlife will use the feeders
for a source of food but will continue to forage for other seeds,
insects and nectar. Feeders should be used 12 months of the
year. Cold long winters can be very hard on wildlife.
Sometimes the feeder is all that is between the animal surviving
There is another school of thought
on feeders. I hear this said by some people who beleive that
it is more important to stop development than it is to feed
wildlife. My belief is that we are far beyond that.
Humans are not going to stop developing. Thinking on how we
develop is more important. Some of the most common things we
do destroys habitat. Feeding wildlife is only replacing the
food source we have removed through development.
Feeding wildlife can bevery enjoyable
and lots of fun. There are many types of feeders and each will
attract different birds and small mammals. You need to find out what
types of birds are native to your location and purchase feeders to
attract them. The bird seeds and food you put out can also be
specific to certain birds and will determine which birds (and
animals) will come to your feeders.
Some birds want to eat on the
ground such as Doves and Juncos, while others prefer eating while
hanging upside down, like Woodpeckers! The size of the holes
in a feeder and the length of the perches can keep away birds like
Starlings while attracting smaller birds.
During the summer, fruit is a
favorite food. Oranges or apple halves for thrashers, orioles and
robins. Add a plastic cup for grape jelly as a treat for catbirds.
Many birds go nuts for peanuts,
pecans and walnuts. There are feeders designed to dispense those
treats while keeping other critters at bay. Seed snacks combine nuts
and suet dough, molded into blocks or encased in ready-to-hang
feeders. There are bulk seed blocks, available in small sizes to fit
into a plastic-coated wire basket or large enough to set out on the
This is the active season as baby
birds are everywhere. You need to attend feeders more
often. Check Hummingbird feeders daily and clean often.
Put out fruit for Mockingbirds, Orioles, Catbird and Tanagers.
Remember that the Cat is the birds worst enemy. Keep them
inside, especially during the summer, as baby birds are virtually
defenseless against them.
Fall is an important time for
migratory birds. You may see birds visiting your yard that you
have not seen all year. They need to build up energy for the
long migratory trip they are on. Some birds fly all the way to
South America! Keep those feeders out and full of
Birds have survived way before
humans starting feeding them. But the presence of feeders with
fresh food definitely is a benefit and will help them through the
long hard winter. A heated bird bath is also a welcomed site
to the birds. They will bath year round, even in the
Tips for healthy
Shake out feeders before
re-filling and remove any old, wet and/or moldy
Keep seed hulls cleaned up and
remove hulls from feeders.
Disinfect feeders a few times
a year with 1/4 cup bleach and 2 gallons of water. Let dry
before re-filling with seed.
Always keep seed in a cool dry
Hulled sunflower seeds are
best used in tube and hopper feeders.
If Racoons, Opossums, Deer and
othe critters are a problem, take down feeders at night or put
only enough feed in the feeders that the birds finish it by
Suet is a high energy food
that can be used year round. One note of caution. Use
only rendered suet in warm temperatures otherwise it will become
Feed year round to attract
more species of birds.
Use different feeders and
Change bath water daily to
prevent algea growth. Add a mister to the bath.
Wild Birds eat more
than bird seed! A LOT more!
Most birds do not eat seeds. The
reason these birds will not come to your feeder is that they prefer
eating live insects or fish or something else. Birds that eat seeds
tend to have heavy, thick bills for cracking seed kernels. Cardinals
and Finches are good examples of seed-eating birds.
To attract the other birds, try
hanging a suet cake by your bedroom window for the woodpeckers and
nuthatches. Put out orange halves for the Orioles. Spread peanut
butter on a pine cone and hang it outside your school window. Plant
a cherry tree in your side yard. Build a pond and stock it with
Be creative and see what you can
attract. Try popped popcorn, peanut hearts, soaked raisins, pieces
of fruit like grapes or oranges or apples, fruit seeds (melons,
apples), grape jelly (another oriole favorite), cooked potatoes,
leftover oatmeal or ready-to-eat cereal. Some birder watchers even
go so far as to put out a tray of live mealworms for the
Accipiters like Cooper's Hawks and
Sharp-shinned Hawks eat other birds. If one swoops down on your bird
feeder and carries off someone for lunch, don't worry about it. That
is the way Mother Nature works. The fittest birds will usually
survive. If this bothers you, take down your feeders for a few days.
The Hawk will move to another location.
Hummingbirds are fascinating to
watch as they dart around the feeders. Males become very aggressive
and try to drive away other hummingbirds.
You might want to
consider having more than one feeder in your yard to provide food
for many "hummers" at the same time.
Feed hummingbirds a
mixture of 1 part sugar and 4 parts water. Boil the water and then
mix in the sugar. Let cool. You can store this mixture up to two
weeks in your refrigerator. Change the liquid in your feeders every
three days. Keep the feeders and tubes clean. Do not add red
coloring to the liquid.
attracted to red, so tie a red ribbon on the feeder or buy a feeder
that is red. Bees are attracted to yellow, so do not buy a feeder
with yellow plastic on it.
Feeders that are
flat, enclosed saucers (birds sit on the perches) seem to be easier
to keep clean than feeders with tubes (bird hovers while
You can plant flowers in your yard that attract
hummingbirds. Red, tube shaped flowers are best. Try Trumpet Vine
(Campsis), Cardinal Flower (Lobelia) or
Honeysuckle (Loniceria). Check some of
the web sites listed at the left side of this page for more
You would not believe
how many books there are about planting gardens to attract
hummingbirds and butterflies.Visit the
Attracting Birds Aisle
to see what we mean!
Commercial bird seed
comes in a variety of mixtures. Cheaper mixtures will contain
large amounts of buckwheat, rice, oats, milo, flax, rape seed,
cracked corn and canary seed.
What the birds really
want to eat is black oil sunflower seeds. To avoid the mess of
sunflower hulls, may people decide to spend a bit more and buy the
hulled sunflower seeds containing only the "hearts" or "chips" of
If you buy a mixture
of seeds, you may find that birds scatter most of the seeds on the
ground, trying to get at the sunflower seeds. It is better to place
these mixtures on a flat platform feeder, rather than in a hopper
type feeder. There will be less waste and fewer seeds will wind up
on the ground. Seeds on the ground will attract doves and some
birds, but they will also attract mice, raccoons and other critters
you may not want at your feeder.
Niger seed is a
favorite food of Goldfinches. It resembles small grains of wild rice
and has a high fat and protein content. Niger is also known as
thistle. Many people think they will be growing thistle weeds in
their yard if they offer this seed. In fact, niger is not a thistle
at all. It's the seed of the niger plant native to Ethiopia. Niger
seed sold as birdseed is heated to prevent it from germinating. Tube
type feeders with small openings are used as Niger or "Thistle"
The type of bird
feeder you use will determine which birds come to your yard to eat.
Do you want hummingbirds, woodpeckers, orioles, chickadees,
cardinals, goldfinches or doves?
Maybe your answer is
"All of the above". In this case you will need a number of different
Hummingbird feeders hold liquid and
have very narrow openings.
Platform feeders are simply flat tables
raised off the ground. Cardinals like these. Doves will eat from
them too if they are not very far off the ground.
Tube feeders are cylindrical tubes with
openings up and down the tube -- perfect for Chickadees and
Goldfinches. Shorten the perches to keep larger birds
Hopper feeders are bins that hold seeds
that spill out of the bottom as the birds eat. Many birds will come
to these -- including larger birds like Blue Jays, Grackles and
Suet feeders are wire or mesh baskets
that hold suet or pre-packaged suet cakes. Woodpeckers love
Bowl feeders are hanging bowls that
typically are covered by a large plastic dome to keep out the rain
Specialized feeders include pine cones
(great for lathering with peanut butter), and sharpened sticks
to hold orange halves for Orioles. You can also sprinkle seeds
directly on the ground -- but this attracts other critters as
Keep your feeders clean!
It is extremely important that you
clean your feeders at least once every two weeks. Use a mixture of 2
gallons of water and 1/4 cup of bleach. Let the feeders air-dry
before rehanging them. When you refill feeders, shake out damp seeds
that may become moldy. Remove hulls from the