Birds are beneficial animals to have in and around your yard. They are instrumental in controlling insect populations and can be colorful and pleasant-sounding companions.
Providing tasty treats year-round is essential to cultivating a lasting relationship with neighborhood birds. Also, by varying the type of foods offered, you may also attract migrating birds to your yard, making for an even better bird-watching experience.
The cold-weather season is a time where feeding should be a top priority, as it becomes more difficult for birds to find food when trees, shrubs and other plants aren't flowering.
So what items will attract the widest array of feathered friends? Following are the preferred delicacies of many birds.
1. Black oil sunflower seed: This seed is the filet mignon of the bird community. It is considered the top choice to feed and attract the widest array of birds. These seeds are rich in oil, and nutritious, giving birds the energy they need. Plus, black oil sunflower seed shells are thin, which makes them easy for all types of birds to open.
Some plants will not flower around the cast-off shells of the black oil sunflower seeds, and the discarded shells can get messy, so if budget permits, you may want to get the seed already hulled. Since hulled seed is more expensive, be sure to safeguard against squirrels when feeding.
2. Nyjer seed: These black seeds from Africa and India, sometimes known as thistle, are a favorite for a variety of finches. Fill up a feeder with small feeding holes, especially for nyjer seed, and watch the finches arrive.
3. Cracked corn: Cracked corn will attract birds you may not see in your yard all the time, including game birds, like pheasants and wild turkey. Place the cracked corn on flat platforms or on the ground. Other animals are attracted to the corn, so expect them to drop by, too.
4. Striped sunflower seed: The shell of striped sunflower seed is thicker and harder to open than the black oil sunflower seed, so it's not as popular among birds. Still, blue jays, woodpeckers and other determined birds will appreciate the seed.
5. Suet: Suet is not a seed, but an important food nonetheless. It's basically a cake of animal fat, sometimes mixed with berries, seed or peanut butter. The suet will provide birds with ample nutrition, and can be used to supplement diets year-round. Suet is placed in special wire feeders that will hold the food.
Many supermarkets and general stores sell birdseed mixes. These may be more filler than substance, and generally contain cast-offs from the poultry industry. They won't attract the quality birds you desire, so it's best to create your own mixes or purchase from a good bird store.