What To Consider When Picking Bird Seed, Bird Feeders, Hummingbird Food

Considerations for selecting bird seed, bird feeders, and hummingbird food illustrated by birds feeding.

Attracting birds to your yard is a beautiful way to give back to nature. Unfortunately, the more cities and suburbs grow, the less habitat available for wildlife. Many species of birds are threatened due to the loss of habitat, including areas where their food grows. Adding bird feeders to your yard is a way to help supplement the losses that birds face. 

Many people wonder about:

  • What type of bird feeder to install?
  • What kind of feed to buy?
  • What kind of birds will come to the feeder?  

Inside we answer these questions and give you some tips on caring for wild birds.

Differences in what birds eat.
Some birds eat a very strict diet. For example, they may eat only a certain kind of seed or a slight variation of seeds. Some do not eat seeds at all, while other birds eat various foods, including seeds and insects or meat.  

The first step in determining what kind of bird feed you need is to determine what kind of food you will offer the birds. That can be a more straightforward process if you want to feed the birds but are not concerned with attracting a specific set of birds. 

The Mob Feed Bird Feeders 
Another important aspect of feeding birds is considering the size and shape of seeds vs. the beak size and the bird’s shape. For example, a small finch will not eat sunflower seeds. Instead, they eat thistle seeds. 

A Mob feeder addresses the food and physical needs of many birds. These are feeders that hold mixed seeds and sometimes seeds with fruit. A mob feeder is a general bird feeder. It has a design that makes it easy for various birds to land and feed.  When you choose a bird feeder for a specific group of birds, be sure that the feeder can physically allow the bird to roost and feed. When a larger bird tries to feed at a small feeder, its weight causes the feeder to tilt, and sometimes the feeder will dump seed on the ground. What happens when pigeons and doves try to feed at feeders that are too small for them. 

Sunflower Feeders 
Sunflower feeders have a design that allows the feeder to dispense larger seeds. These are often hexagon-shaped feeders tall enough to allow bigger songbirds to land and feed. They are appropriate for blackbirds, doves, woodpeckers, and larger birds. 

Thistle Feeders 
Install thistle feeders when you want to attract flocks of the smallest birds. These are tube-shaped feeders with a very small mesh cover. The smaller birds can pluck the thistle seed from the feeder, but the bigger birds have a much more difficult time. The trick of the feeder is the small-gauge wire netting. It allows small bird bills to snatch seeds but prevents the bills of larger birds from accessing the food. 

Thistle feeders attract small finches, chickadees, pine siskins. In addition, you can enjoy small birds such as goldfinches and house finches when you feed thistle seeds. 

Fruit Feeders 
A variety of birds eat fruit. Tanagers, bluebirds, robins, orioles, grosbeak, and waxwings are a handful of bird species you can attract to your yard when you put up a fruit feeder.  You can find birdseed with dried fruit in it, or you can find a feeder that has a design to allow you to place fresh fruit, such as a half of an orange. Orioles are fond of fresh fruit. Bluejays and larger Covin such as mockingbirds and crows will also eat fresh fruit.  

Summing it up
We’ve discussed:

  • Mob Feeders offer a variety of food sizes – sunflower and tiny seeds to various birds. These are ideal if you want to attract many birds to your yard. 
  • Sunflower Feeders – attract larger birds. The feeders hold larger seeds for birds capable of eating larger seeds and shelling them. These are fantastic to attract bluejays, blackbirds, and other birds of that size. 
  • Thistle Feeders – attract smaller birds and are ideal for small-billed birds such as house finches and goldfinches. 
  • Fruit Feeders – both for dried fruit and fresh fruit, which can attract spectacular birds such as orioles to your yard. 

There are still a few more types of feeders to mention. Those include hummingbird
feeders and suet feeders. 

Hummingbird Feeders
Hummingbirds live exclusively on nectar, and you can attract hummingbirds to your yard with bright flowers, but they also love nectar feeders. I prefer hummingbird feeders that are glass because you can sterilize them to reduce disease risk.

There are plastic hummingbird feeders available, and they do a good job, but they are hard to clean, and you cannot sterilize them safely. Glass is a much better option.  When you choose hummingbird feeders, it is important to consider food safety since birds can pick up and transmit salmonella; you want to sterilize the feeder between filling. 

Suet Feeders 
Some birds are meat eaters – most eat insects, worms, and other small creatures. Suet feeders hold a variety of foods. They get their name from suet cakes that go inside them. However, they are not limited to suet cakes. You can find a variety of foods ready to go into a suet feeder. You can choose foods based on the birds you want to attract. Food sources include peanut cakes, birdseed cakes, insects cakes, such as mealworms, and mixed cakes that are seeds, insects, fruit, and more. You can also make your own variety of food mixes. Suet feeders generally attract larger birds such as pileated woodpeckers, red-bellied woodpeckers, bluejays, northern flickers, etc. 

Curating The Bird Populations in Your Yard
By pairing the correct feeder with the correct food, you can attract the types of birds you want. The size of the feeder in correlation to the bird's size and seed size is all that is needed. The birds will eventually find the feeders. Once they do, they will return often.  A variety of foods and feeders will give you a wider variety of birds to enjoy. 

The Last Ingredient in Attracting Birds to Your Yard 
The last ingredient in all of this is water. Birds need water. You can install a birdbath or a water feature such as small fountains. Even small wildlife ponds will provide water for birds. 

There are various levels of satisfaction you can get while feeding birds. I recommend keeping a journal to begin to see the patterns of when birds come. Bird species are often migratory, and as you journal your experiences with your bird feeders, you will begin to see the pattern of when some birds show up and when they leave. 

A journal will also help you identify which species stick around all year to be more accurate in how you feed the birds. Another handy tool is a set of binoculars, which will help identify the birds that come to your feeders. Pair that with a few quality books and bird guides. 

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