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DINNER? IT'S FOR THE BIRDS!

blue jayHi! We have talked a bit about bird houses. Now let's look at what we can do to help provide the birds with food. Bird feeding isn't just a winter activity; it might surprise you to learn that even in spring, food is still scarce for our feathered friends.

The temperatures are usually cool enough that many insect populations haven't emerged, and that's sad news for those birds who eat insects. Also, the fruit eating birds won't see their favorite foods naturally appearing until harvest!

Plus, everyone is always so eager to get outdoors as soon as Spring arrives, that it is the perfect time to get yourself involved with bird feeding and bird watching. Then, by the time winter arrives, those birds who over-winter in your area will know where the food is.

Of course, it will be up to YOU to keep their dinner table supplied!

TIP: Remember to check out the bird books at your local LIBRARY for specific details on birds, their favorite foods, and favorite styles of dining table. For now, I have listed some basic points to get you started. I also give directions for building a simple bird feeder.

You don't need to buy fancy bird
feeders to feed your backyard friends.

You can:

  • Set a pie tin on a stool or flat topped tree trunk or hang it in a hanging plant hanger; dump it out after a rain, or punch drainage holes in it, and elevate it a little by placing small rocks or twigs beneath it. (All birds, specially Juncos, Cardinals, Jays, Sparrows)

  • Punch holes on either side of a plastic pop bottle, stick a twig all the way through with its ends sticking out for perches and poking more holes nearby for the birds to pull the seeds out. Then hang the bottle by tying a string around its neck. (Finches really like these!)

  • Coat a pine cone with peanut butter, roll it in birdseed, and hang it from a tree branch;

  • Use a rectangle of old window = screening. Wear heavy cotton gloves and use needle-nosed pliers to crimp the loose wire edges back (so they won't poke the birds nor snag their feathers), fold it in half, run two string hangers through the corners on each side, and hanging it. Slide in a suet/birdseed cake from the grocery store, or make a "cake" of oatmeal, birdseed, and peanut butter. (Cardinals, Jays, Robins, = Sparrows)

  • Stick a piece of bread, a doughnut, or half of an orange, on a twiggy branch of the tree (the Orioles will LOVE the orange!)

  • Tie a string around the neck of a baby food jar and fill with orange juice. Hang it from a tree. (It will hang tilted, but Orioles will perch on the rim and take dainty sips).

  • Scatter bread crumbs on the = ground.

SO, WHICH BIRDS EAT WHICH FOOD?

BIRDS Ground Feeders Raised Feeders Hanging (Suet) Hanging (Seed)
Blue Jay

X

Chickadee

X

X

X

Cardinal

X

X
(if seed is in it)

X

Finches

X

X

Grackle

X

X

Junco

X

X

Dove

X

Mockingbird

X

Sparrow

X

X

Woodpecker

X

X

X

Wren

X

Yellow Bellied Sapsucker

X

X

This bird feeder won't last long, but it is so easy to make, you can always have another one made all ready to replace it when it wears out!

cardinalMILK CARTON BIRD = FEEDER

      • Small milk carton (the kind at school)
      • non-toxic poster paints
      • stapler and staples
      • hole punch=20
      • yarn or string

1.Wash and thoroughly dry the milk carton.

2. Cut a small section from the carton and then staple the top opening closed.

3. Paint the container, if desired. Let it dry. (Note: I like to paint my feeders in streaks of tan, gray and brown to resemble tree bark. Then, on the bottom, I paint on dark and light green leaves. When you stand underneath the hanging bird feeder, it really blends in with the canopy of leaves above it!)

4. Poke a hole in the middle of the = top of the carton, and thread a piece of yarn or string through it to use as a hanger. (The string should be long enough for the feeder to hang where the branches don't rub against, but not so long that the feeder hangs too far away from the tree's leaf cover. Birds like to feel they have a hiding place to fly into quickly!)

5. Add birdseed and hang the feeder. (Since the small milk carton feeders are just the right size for the tiny birds such as finches, wrens, etc., you might want to use thistle seed. It is the finch's favorite food! Garden supply stores carry a sterile thistle seed just for bird feeding which is guaranteed not to sprout all over your yard).


Melani Roewe is a former news editor, Girl Scout Leader and Adult Trainer and K-12 educator who enjoys alpine wilderness hiking, birdwatching, fishing, snow- and water-skiing, swimming, and camping. She directs her church's Youth and Adult Choirs and lives in Oklahoma with her husband and two children. She is also owner of the Glass Carver.

National Bird-Feeding Society has published an illustrated booklet, the Basics of Backyard Bird Feeding. The Basics features sections on feeders, landscaping, water, nectar, suet, nest boxes and squirrels. Visit http://www.birdfeeding.org/basics.html to order.

Did you know the Society has FREE bird feeding projects for kids? Download the free kids kit "Learn about Backyard Birds" at http://www.birdfeeding.org/kids.html

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