The birds return to raise families, often the same birds, sometimes to the same tree. Bird feeding is common in winter, but many folks think that when the flowers bloom, the birds have enough to eat and can take care of themselves.

Orinthology studies have indicated that in spring the need for supplemental food is as great as in winter. The stress of breeding, increased singing and mating requires extra calories, particularly fat, which is found primarily in seeds. Protein rich insects are used primarily to feed the babies. In fall they can use additional help with calories to migrate south. Sometimes though, if the winter is mild and the food plentiful, they will hang around all year.


Who eats what in this feathered kingdom has always been a confusing mystery to me until I found a bird feeding chart. It suggested the following preferences:
Cardinal – sunflower, white millet ,safflower
Junco, Sparrows – sunflower, millet,
Mourning Dove – sunflower, millet
Nuthatches, Woodpeckers – peanuts, sunflower, suet
Evening Grosbeak – sunflower , safflower
Finches, Pine Siskin – thistle seed, sunflower
Chickadee, Titmouse – peanuts, sunflower, suet
All Sparrows – sunflower, millet, safflower
Wren – sunflower, peanuts hearts, suet
Hummingbirds – nectar, pink sugar water

Because I like simplicity, I will, with my new found knowledge, use mainly sunflower hearts since most every fluffy friend out there supposedly eats them. Furthermore, I’m tired of the left over debris of black shells from my current whole sunflower seeds.

Incidentally, birds should be fed from hanging or pole mounted feeders, not on the ground. The reason is that ground feed attracts raccoons and woodchucks which can carry rabies, not to mention undesirable squirrels and rats.

Of course, once I learned about the sunflower hearts, I just had to have a quaint birdhouse to decorate the garden. Most birdhouses are more for fun and decoration than for serious bird breeding. There are kits to make with children, ready-built ones to be painted and decorated, and finally , delightful (and pricey) ones made to look like old barns, hanging lobster pots, quanit cottages, even lighthouses.

I settled on a hanging feeding station, with hand painted flowers, of a size that the small birds can get into but not scrappy blue jays or crows. The birds nest nearby in some thick ivy on the trees and in holes made by squirrels and woodpeckers.

Proper birdhouses should have a small hole near the top, be deep enough to protect the nest, and have a cleanout panel . The size of the hole and the orientation of the house determines which bird varieties will inhabit it. Sometimes birds (usually wrens) will nest in unexpected places like light fixtures or shelves or boxes. Just leave them alone and enjoy them until the little ones fledge and they all fly away.

Now through November 7th, let help you make your home a haven for your feathered friends. Enter the Build a Birdhouse Giveaway today and you could win a $250 gift card good for everything you’ll need to get you on your way.

Credit: Mother’s Garden