Feeding birds

Several birds are feeding around a bird feeder during a heavy snow. There is a red cardinal and some other birds on and sitting on a wire beside the feeder, in the background you can see the heavy snow with many trees of a forrest in the background. A very scenic and tranquil scene of winter and some lucky birds.

It has been such an odd winter, with temperatures rising and falling and no real snow cover. I always have my bird feeders out in the winter but the lack of actual winter weather had me wondering if it was still necessary to feed the birds. I wondered what information was available through our Extension and Outreach resources that could answer my questions.

I’ve learned that birds will eat from feeders all year and that birdseed is only a part of a wild bird’s diet. Habitat around the feeder is important so I’m grateful that we live out in the country and my feeder is placed at the edge of a pasture. The trees and bushes in the pasture provide shelter and a place to hide for the more timid birds. We often attract a wide variety of birds; Cardinals, Blue Jays, various Woodpeckers, Sparrows, Grackels, and Starlings.

I have often purchased bird seed without really understanding what I was buying. This chart provides information on which seed is preferred by different species of birds. I have a greater understanding of how the seed I have in my feeder affects which birds are attracted to my feeder. As much as I enjoy the Blue Jays, I will be sure not to feed peanuts as the squirrel is attracted to them.

Also, I did not realize that corn can be a source of aflatoxins which can kill birds. I should be cleaning and sanitizing the feeders on a regular basis. In the past, I have scraped out dried and crusted feed. Now I plan to take the feeder inside the house and wash it out. It will make it so much easier for the birds to use the feeder.

It looks like I have some work to do when I get home tonight. I hope the work helps the birds in my yard.

Liz Meimann

Liz Meimann

I received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Food Science at Iowa State University. I love to quilt, sew, cook, and bake. I spent many years gardening, canning, and preserving food for my family when my children were at home.

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