Make Your Own Bird Food

·  Page 2
This article provides information about feeding birds during the winter
by Brett · All Zones · Birds · 2 Comments · March 28, 2011 · 5,978 views

Make It Yourself

As an alternative to commercial mixtures, which may have a high percentage of less appealing "filler seeds" such as red milo, you can create an attractive, low-cost mixture yourself.

Here's a good recipe:

Pour one 25-pound bag of black-oil sunflower seed, one 10-pound bag of white proso millet, and one 10-pound bag of cracked corn into a clean trash barrel. Mix it up with a broomstick, and be sure to replace the lid tightly. In fact, always store whatever seed you decide to provide in a tight, waterproof container. Metal containers work best to prevent rodents from gnawing their way into your food supply.

Leftovers: For the Birds?
You don't have to limit your offerings to commercial birdseed. Some people save the seeds from squash and melons. This is a great way to put the seeds from your Halloween pumpkins to good use. Some birds relish these seeds even more than black-oil sunflower. Spread them out on trays to air dry before placing them in your feeders or on the ground. If the seeds are sufficiently dry and free of mold, you can save them to use when winter comes. Smaller birds may have a tough time breaking open vegetable seeds, but if you run the seeds through a food processor first, they will be able to eat them with ease.

Some people throw out scraps of stale bread, cake, or doughnuts for their feathered visitors. There's nothing wrong with this, but be sure the food is not moldy or it may harm the birds. Another caveat: table scraps may attract less-welcome visitors such as European Starlings, House Sparrows, rats, or raccoons. Attracting nuisance species can be a real problem in urban and suburban areas, so be considerate of your neighbors before feeding leftovers.

High-Energy Foods
You can also attract insect-eating birds such as chickadees, woodpeckers, and nuthatches to your yard by offering peanut butter or suet (beef fat). Birds that live in cold climates especially appreciate these high-energy foods. Some people worry that birds will choke on sticky peanut butter. There's no evidence that they do, but you can completely eliminate any risk by mixing peanut butter with corn meal or oatmeal.

The plain beef suet available at most supermarket meat departments is an excellent high-energy food. Suet can quickly become rancid in warm weather, but some commercial suet cakes and doughs can be used year-round. Offer the suet in a plastic mesh bag (the kind onions come in) or, to guard against raccoons, in a wire basket. Premade suet cakes are also available in most stores that sell bird-feeding supplies. These cakes often contain a mix of birdseeds. The cakes are great to have on hand in case your local supermarket is out of suet.

Fruity Favorites
Birds such as robins, thrushes, bluebirds, and waxwings don't usually show up at feeders because seeds are not a major component of their diet. But you can still tempt them to dinner with an offering of fruit. Soften dried raisins and currents by soaking them in water, then offer them at your feeding station. Mockingbirds, catbirds, tanagers, and orioles will also find sliced fresh fruit attractive. You can offer fruit on a platform feeder or simply on a plate on the ground.

Water and More Water
Unfrozen water can be as hard for birds to find in winter as food. Birds need water not only to drink, but also to bathe in - clean feathers provide the best insulation. A dependable supply of fresh water will even attract to your yard birds that wouldn't ordinarily come to your feeders.

A shallow, easy-to-clean birdbath is best - an upside-down garbage can lid or large frying pan will work fine. To emulate a natural puddle, simply dig a shallow hole in the ground and line it with plastic before filling it with water. In colder climates, an immersion - style water heater will keep your birdbath unfrozen in the winter. Clean your birdbath often and keep it filled with fresh water.

Joyce Joyner

Joyce Joyner · Gardenality Sprout · Zone 8A · 10° to 15° F
I've heard that it is 'irresponsible' to feed birds during the summer as they need the higher protein diet..BUGS...but they still come to my feeders and I enjoy them in my yard AND I think they help with insect control during the feed or not to feed, in the summer????

9 years ago ·
0 Green Thumbs Up · Gardenality Genius · Zone 8A · 10° to 15° F
I've heard the same warnings that say to not feed birds during summer because it makes them stop eating insects. This is a myth and totally untrue. There have been many studies done that show birds don't rely 100% on food from feeders during the summer months. If you're feeding them seed during the summer, the seed will supplement but not reduce their wild food diet, such as insects, which also gives them needed protein. It's like saying that because someone was gonna give me cheese pizza for free every day that this is all I would ever eat. The feeders and feed we supply might also benefit birds that aren’t insect eaters. I feed the birds year round and it seems they eat less during the summer months...probably because there's more insects around. I think that feeding birds year round will simply attract more birds to not only feed but nest and raise their young on your property. It's also a good idea to provide a water source for birds. The more birds you attract, the more water sources there should be. I have 5 bird baths of various sizes and depths in my yard, and a garden pond. So, YES, feed the birds during summer and don't forget to provide water.

9 years ago ·
0 Green Thumbs Up


View All My Gardenaltiy Updates »