If you want to attract the widest array of birds to your feeder, fill it with sunflower seeds. Most birds love them. You'll find two kinds — black oil and striped — on store shelves.
Black oil sunflower seeds feature thin shells, making them easy for seed-eaters such as woodpeckers, cardinals, jays, chickadees, and nuthatches to crack open. The seeds are rich in fats, potassium, magnesium, iron, and vitamin B-6. The high-fat content makes them beneficial to birds that stay the winter.
Striped sunflower seeds have thicker shells, so they're more challenging for some birds to crack. They'll attract larger species like cardinals and grosbeaks but discourage, for instance, house sparrows that can "take over" a feeder and prevent other birds from feeding.
To help prevent diseases such as salmonella and trichomonosis, you should clean your bird feeders and birdbaths once every two weeks, more often when heavily used or in damp or warm conditions.
Remove debris from feeders by scrubbing, then soak for 10 minutes in diluted bleach or one hour in weak vinegar. This method is proven to be more effective than washing with soap and water alone. You can also clean feeders in your dishwasher using the hot setting.
Use gloves when changing and cleaning feeders and birdbaths. Ensure that you only use one set of scrubbing tools for this purpose and keep them outside. Don't forget to wash your hands.
Steer clear of feeders that allow seeds to get wet. Moist seeds may become mouldy or filled with bacteria.
Rake the ground under your feeder regularly. Mouldy bird food is unhealthy for wild birds and family pets. Scattered seeds may also attract rodents.
Listen carefully the next time chickadees are in your yard. Their calls are intricate and highly communicative, full of information about their social group and the potential for danger.
The more dees there are in chickadee-dee-dee, the greater the threat. Interestingly, other birds that mingle with chickadee flocks will react to these alarm calls, even if their species doesn't have a similar call.
Food isn't the only way to draw birds to your yard. Did you know a water feature is a great way to invite and engage a wide variety of birds?
Bird waterers (think hanging feeders that dispense water) serve a purpose, but birdbaths, small pools, and ponds will provide the necessary water for birds to rinse their plumage and quench their thirst after feeding. Make sure you keep your waterers or birdbaths out of the sun, clean them regularly, and change the water frequently.
Did you know that melanin, which is brown, is the actual pigment in blue jay feathers? We see them as blue, however, when sunlight scatters through light-changing cells on the surface of the feathers.
North America's boreal forest ranges from Newfoundland to Alaska. It is the world's largest intact forest. At 1.5 billion acres (1.2 billion of which are still untouched by human development), the boreal forest is considered the continents' bird nursery.
Every summer, immense quantities of migratory birds rely on its richness as a breeding ground. Come fall, between three billion and five billion birds fly out of the woods, some stopping for food at our feeders on their way to warmer climes. It is in our best interests — and those of our feathered friends — that we all do our part to preserve the boreal forest for the future.
Stockpiling, or caching, food for the long winter months is an activity engaged in by many birds, including nuthatches, jays, chickadees, and crows. These birds may hide thousands of seeds throughout the year, and some species, like chickadees, are experts at remembering what they hid and where.