Guest Author - Malika Harricharan
Lots of people want to know what they can do to attract different types of birds to their feeders. Winter is a great time to do this. With the cold temperatures and food not as plentiful you may notice more birds now than at other times of the year.
I've seen a lot of beautiful cardinals in my backyard and their lovely red color really stands out against the bleak landscape.
Wild birds have favorite foods. To maximize how many species you will see you will need to offer a variety of food. The types of birds that stay in cold weather and do not migrate for the winter eat seeds. They would have to as it would be very hard for them to find fruits, berries or insects this time of year. So, you'll need to know what these birds eat in order to attract them to your feeder.
Black oil sunflower attract cardinals, bluejays, chickadees, purple finches, grosbeaks, nuthatches, tufted titmice, and goldfinches. When you buy these make sure to get the all black kind vs. the ones with white stripes on them that are sold for human consumption. Not only are they cheaper but birds like them better.
Cracked corn attracts blackbirds, buntings, blue jays, cardinals, crows, grackles, mourning doves, purple finches, sparrows, and woodpeckers. Although this is an inexpensive bird food option when purchased in bulk from a farm feed store, cracked corn doesn't stay fresh long once wet.
Nyger is the most popular food of Goldfinches. The bad news about Nyger is it is really expensive. So my recommendation is to buy a feeder with the small holes made especially for this, so you don't waste any of this seed.
Safflower Seeds are favorites of Chickadees, titmice and woodpeckers. The best thing about these seeds are that squirrels don't like them. So, if you are looking for a seed that will keep the squirrels away this is it.
Orange, fresh, halved attracts northern orioles.
Suet is great for birds in the winter. They absolutely love suet. And I am pretty surprised that more people don't hang suet. Basically suet is meat fat. Have you ever heated up bacon in the microwave and had a pile of grease left on the plate? If you let this sit it will become more solid. This is what suet is made from. Sometimes it has berries added to it for more flavor.
Suet helps birds stay warm in the winter by providing lots of energy. It attracts a myriad of species including blue jays, Carolina wrens, chickadees, nuthatches, northern orioles, starlings, thrushes, and warblers.
White millet is great for ground feeding birds. It attracts mourning doves, juncos, and sparrows. Another great thing about this is it is pretty inexpensive.
One last bit of advice is not to buy mixed seed. It may seem like you are saving money, but really you aren’t in the long run. These mixed seed bags contain a lot of filler that the birds just won't eat. I've watched birds at the feeder literally pick out which ones they didn't want and push them to the ground with their beak.