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Quick Bird Feeding Tips

Here are tips for making your bird feeding more successful. They're adapted from the Non-game Wildlife Program of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Five Ways to Double the Number of Bird Species at Your Feeders:
1. Feed the birds in all four seasons.

2. Provide water in all four seasons. It's best if the water is dripping,
splashing or misting during the summer and heated during the winter.

3. Use at least 8 to 12 feeders in your yard, grouping them together in 2 or 3 clusters.

4. Provide protection from predators by placing feeders in the open, at least 10 feet away from anything that might hide a predator. This allows you to protect the birds. You can also fence off an area with chicken wire or rabbit fencing (a wire with openings no larger than 2 inches by 4 inches and at least 30 inches high).

5. Clean the bird feeders and the surrounding ground area regularly.

Top Ten Bird Foods :
1. Black Oil Sunflower Seed
2. Suet / Suet Cakes
3. Peanuts / Nuts / Peanut Butter
4. Safflower
5. Shelled Corn
6. Finch Mixture or Niger Thistle
7. White Proso Millet and Cracked Corn
8. Apples, Oranges, Grape Jelly
9. Mealworms
10. Sugar Water / Hummingbird Food

Bird Feed Basics
Bird Feed Basics

For thousands of years, people have been feeding birds. In our hurried lives, there are few other activities that bring us such beauty, entertainment, and sense of closeness to nature. Feeding birds has a strong, positive effect on the bird population. Over the past few decades, there has been a remarkable increase in the overall number of birds and bird varieties seen in our yards. Although birds can be fed year-round, most bird feeding is done in winter. Insects, seed and water are more difficult to find at these times. Deciding what to feed birds can be a big decision, since there are so many types of feed available. Choosing a mixture of feeds will attract a variety of birds. Commercially available foods are seeds, fats or nuts. You can also supplement this selection with fruits and baked goods. This information sheet will provide you with the basics about the different types of feeds, and what Bachman's has available. Pick up a copy of our handout Minnesota Birds, to find out what type food is the favorite of the birds that come into your yard.

Seeds for Feeding Birds

By weight, sunflower seeds provide more protein than any other seed. There are two types of sunflower seed, striped and black oil. The black oil seed is the smallest and has the largest proportion of seed to shells.

A new seed to many people feeding birds, safflower is quickly becoming a favorite. It is very high in oil and cardinals enjoy eating it. It also does not seem to attract squirrels or sparrows.

An inexpensive energy and heat producing food, whole or cracked corn is a good food for keeping birds warm in winter. Cracked corn is eaten by many birds. Whole corn is especially good for feeding large birds, such as jays, woodpeckers, pheasants, ducks, geese and even squirrels. Ear corn can be fed to birds or squirrels. Too much corn in a mixed seed will attract common grackles, sparrows and other unwanted pests.

Niger Thistle
Another seed that provides the needed protein and fat is Niger seed. Commonly called thistle, Niger seed is fed through small slits in special feeders. This attracts all sorts of finches and excludes a lot of larger, more aggressive birds.

One of the smallest seeds, millet is usually only available in mixed seed. Many of the birds that normally eat small seed prefer white proso millet.

Other Seeds
What is grown or commonly available in your area will determine what ingredients are used in seed mixes. Examples of other seeds suitable for birds are wheat, oats, buckwheat, canary, flax, rape and rice.

Fat for Feeding Birds

Made from rendered beef fat, suet is a reliable source of energy to keep birds warm in the winter. Most suet is a mixture of fat and seed, peanuts or fruit. Almost all birds like suet, but it is a special favorite with insect eaters, such as woodpeckers and robins. Bachman's offers a wide variety of suet cakes flavored with seed, peanuts, raisins, fruit and insects.

Animal Fats
Birds will benefit from almost any source of fat. Try putting out bacon drippings, cheese, cottage cheese or dog food.

Feeding Nuts and Peanut Butter
Various types of nuts, such as peanuts and pecans, provide protein, fat and minerals for birds. An affordable alternative to nuts is peanut butter, which can be mixed with suet or birdseed for a high-protein supplement.

Feeding Fruits and Baked Goods
Jays, grosbeaks and woodpeckers are drawn to fruits such as oranges, apples, raisins, berries and bananas. These same birds and more will also be drawn to whole grain bread, biscuits, muffins, cake, crackers and cookies.

Grit for Birds
Since birds do not have teeth with which to chew their food, they need grit. Grit, such as sand, gravel, crushed oyster shell or eggshells, is used to grind food in their gizzards. In nature, birds pick up grit with their food. In your backyard (especially in winter), it helps to provide a source of this needed material.

Essential Water
The single most important thing you can provide birds during the winter is a source of water. Birds can spend a tremendous amount of energy just keeping warm when they have to rely on snow as their source of water. Consider installing a heater in your birdbath or put out a shallow dish of warm water at least once a day.

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