We enjoy feeding wild birds all year long and fortunately, we have a window seat overlooking a protected nook that’s perfect for observing them from the inside.
It’s particularly helpful to feed them during the colder months when there are fewer seeds and berries available for the wild birds.
What To Feed Wild Birds
Each species (see 15 Most Common Wild Birds) of bird has different seed preferences, so the type of seed offered can be customized to attract specific birds:
Cracked corn – cardinals, doves, grosbeaks, sparrows
Black Oil Sunflower or Sunflower – many birds
Peanuts – blue jays, nuthatches, titmice, woodpeckers, wrens
Thistle – finches
Safflower – cardinals, chickadees, grosbeaks, nuthatches
White Millet – cardinals, doves, juncos, towhees, sparrows
For feeders, we look for sturdy models that are easy to fill and clean (and that are designed for dispensing the type of seed we’re planning on feeding). We’ve found that models from Audubon and Droll Yankee have worked well for us – they sometimes seem a bit pricier than other brands but they’ve lasted for years.
In addition to seed, suet is an important food for bird species that depend on insects for food, such as woodpeckers. The suet supplies carbohydrates and energy they need to survive the cold weather. Here’s the recipe we make each year for the suet feeder:
Peanut Butter Suet
- Cake Pan
- 1 cup crunchy peanut butter
- 2 cups "quick cook" oatmeal
- 2 cups cornmeal
- 1 1/2 cups lard
- 1 cup white flour
- 1/3 cup sugar
- Melt the peanut butter and lard together in a pan over low heat, then mix in the remaining ingredients (while still on low heat).
- Press the mixture into a square or rectangular cake pan so that the mix is about 1 inch thick (or the thickness of your suet feeder.
- Freeze for an hour, and then cut into squares that will fit your feeder.
We also enjoy observing bluebirds on the farm but have never been very successful at attracting them to the feeders. That’s because we fill our feeders with seed. If you want to attract bluebirds to your feeders, it’s generally necessary to stock the feeders with currants, raisins, or other bits of dried fruit (see Creating Bluebird Habitat).
Of course, you’ll likely attract other critters to your feeders and it can be a battle to keep feeding just the wild birds.
Feeding wild birds the type of seed they prefer is an easy way to bring whatever species of bird you enjoy observing into your yard. They’re colorful, beautiful, and we can spend hours watching their antics!