Monday, February 8, 2010

What Birds Want In Your Lawn & Garden

Ever wonder what birds really want? Are you trying to attract certain specie of birds? Birds can in fact be picky when it comes to their bird food and will likely stay or leave because of what type is being fed to them or how the bird feeder and bird seed are handled. Here are some facts to swallow and learn from that will help you provide the right kind of food to attract the specie of birds you want.

Out of all the wild birds that live in the United States, the ten most commonly found at your bird feeders are probably: American Goldfinch; Black-capped Chickadee; Brown-headed Cowbird; Common Grackle; House Finch; House Sparrow; Mourning Dove; Northern Cardinal; Pine Siskin; and Purple Finch. You may see some others not listed here depending on the area you live in. In my experience wild birds tend to like the following types of seeds: black oil sunflower; fine and medium sunflower chips (also known as hulled sunflower); nyjer (formerly known as thistle); and white proso millet. Different seed types attract different kinds of birds. For example, white proso millet tends to attract native sparrows and mourning doves. Small finches, including gold finches, prefer nyjer or sunflower chips. Larger species, like cardinals, woodpeckers and house finches, like black oil sunflower seeds. Two seed types that tend to not be so popularly liked are red milo and cracked corn. So try to avoid seed mix with these in them.

Some other things you can do to attract more birds or keep them coming back is regular cleaning and care of your bird feeders and bird seed. Start by providing a lot of feeding space for the birds to share. Providing more space will invite the birds to enjoy their feeding much more comfortably than trying to fight for first dibs on the bird food. Clean the bird feeders and area of both seed hulls and bird droppings. This is not only unpleasant for the birds but unattractive for humans as it takes away from the beautiful site of bird feeding. Storing the bird food appropriately will also have an impact on your returning visitors. Make sure you store it according to the instructions on the package and/or recommendations. And one last important tip is to always keep fresh bird seed in the feeder. Once you start providing birds with bird food and they start depending on it for survival or energy needs, it is very important to keep up on it, especially if you want them to return. Make it part of your routine in the morning or afternoon to check on the seed for all of these things to ensure you are providing the best possible environment in the birds’ eyes. Then sit back and enjoy all the work you put into keeping them around.

Here are some interesting facts about bird feeding and how it rates in America. Among hobbies, bird feeding is second only to gardening in the United States. More than 55 million Americans over the age of 16 feed wild birds. For comparison, that's more than people that hunt and fish combined. People who feed birds spend more than $3.8 billion on seed, feeders and other accessories. Still, feeding wild birds is one of the most understudied wildlife management issues in the United States. As bird feeders supply only roughly 10-20% of a bird’s daily energy needs, studies show that birds with access to feeders lay more eggs and fledge more young. In addition, survival increases if birds have access to feeders during harsh winter weather.

I hope these tips help to increase or improve your wild bird feeding experience. If you are new to this, now is the time to join the many people who enjoy this popular hobby and create some outdoor life in your lawn and garden. Wild birds are wonderful to watch and interact with each other and their environment. They will greatly appreciate your careful attention to detail and work you put into providing them with the food that they like.