It’s All For The Birds
Tips and recipes to feed wild birds in your back yard.
Tired of gray skies and dirty snow?
Brighten up your landscape, give yourself a lift and a laugh by feeding wild birds. It’s easy to do and doesn’t have to be expensive. The birds’ antics are extremely entertaining.
Believe it or not, in addition to high-fat food, birds need water, even in the midst of all this snow. An inverted trash can lid, a Frisbee or a pie pan can make do as a bird bath. Fill with no more than a half inch to an inch of water. Place a branch or stone in the water for the birds to stand on.
Even though the water in the bath will freeze, do not ever use anti-freeze. It is poisonous to birds, in fact to all animals. Add some boiling water in the morning to thaw things out.
Bird food should be put in hanging feeders. If you don’t already have a pole or shepherds crook in the ground, now sure isn’t the time to put one in.
You can hang any feeders you have to a branch, using wire. If possible, hang an upside down aluminum pie plate over the feeder. That will serve both as a squirrel baffle and provide some protection from ice and snow.
To get the most bang for your buck and to welcome the most birds, offer unhulled black oil sunflower seeds. They attract cardinals, finches, chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, blue jays and even woodpeckers.
Safflower seeds are very popular with cardinals, chickadees, titmice and even some woodpeckers. The unwelcome birds, such as grackles and starlings, don’t like safflower seed.
Nyger, also called thistle, is the food of choice for goldfinches. Nyger is comparatively expensive and can go rancid. Only buy small amounts and put it in a thistle feeder, which is specifically designed for nyger seed and the birds who eat it.
Millet is the least expensive bird seed, but not all the birds like it. Scatter millet on the ground for juncos, sparrows and mourning doves. Don’t bother buying any birdseed mix that includes red millet, as most birds ignore it. Avoid putting corn in your bird feeders, as this will attract mourning grackles, doves and squirrels.
At this, the coldest part of the year, you can make it easy on your backyard buddies by offering high-fat, easy-to-eat things such as shelled sunflower pieces, peanut pieces and suet cakes.
Suet cakes will attract tons of woodpeckers. The cakes come preformed in squares and contain various additions, such as peanuts, sunflower seed or corn. You can buy the feeders and suet cakes at most hardware stores and pet food stores. Better yet, visit the Wild Bird Center of Gaithersburg, which is at Darnestown and Quince Orchard Roads.
You can also make your own high-energy mix for the birds. Here’s an easy recipe:
Using an electric mixer, mix together 1 pound plain Crisco and 1 pound crunchy peanut butter. Add in 1 cup hulled sunflower seed, 1 cup peanut pieces, 1 cup raisins, and 2 cups of uncooked, coarse cornmeal. Add more cornmeal if necessary to thicken.
Put mixture in muffin tins and freeze. Remove from the tins and place on a plastic cutting board. Push a heated metal skewer through the middle of each “muffin.” String some twine through the hole and tie the “muffins” on branches.
Then sit back and watch the action!