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Birding Basics Seed Preferences Feeder Types

Birding Basics

Birds fly through life, and through our yards, working tirelessly. Finding food; seeking water; building nests; raising families. And, along the way, they bring their free spirits, bright colors and constant chatter into our lives.

There are two reasons to feed the birds — for yourself and for the birds. Nothing brightens up a yard like a flock of colorful finches or other songbirds. Attracting birds to your backyard or patio can be as simple as setting up a birdfeeder with seed. As a hobby, bird feeding can prove to be both inexpensive and infinitely rewarding. But as with any past time, there are a few simple steps you can take to make your hobby more enjoyable.

Birds require four basic things to survive: food, water, protection from the elements and danger, and a place to raise their young safely.

All Important Water

The availability of fresh water is a critical element in attracting wild birds year round. Songbirds, especially, need a sizable quantity for drinking and bathing. Birds also need water to keep their feathers clean and fluffy to provide the insulation to keep warm in cold weather

Most birds prefer a water source far enough away from surrounding vegetation to allow a clear view of approaching danger, but close enough to seek refuge if it is needed. Vary the depth of water in birdbaths from about two inches to quite shallow. A few flat rocks under the water’s surface makes a convenient landing spot for smaller birds. The presence of water at your feeding station may attract some type of birds that food alone will not. Birds that favor a diet of insects or fruit may not have a reason to stop for visit unless you offer a place for a drink or a bath.

Shelter and Protective Cover

Birds are dependent on flight for safety. Therefore, they are most vulnerable when they are grounded to rest, feed or nest. Protection means staying both comfortable and safe. A wide variety of plant vegetation and trees will provide the best range of habitat for birds. Protection from cold winds and driving rain allow birds to maintain body heat, and keep healthy. Birds that are exposed to cold, wet and windy weather are very vulnerable to exposure, resulting in possible death. Without protective cover nearby, wild birds will not frequent bird feeders even if they contain the most desirable seed.

Cleanliness and Hygiene

Clean is the byword for backyard bird feeding. We must make the effort to offer the cleanest, most bird-friendly way stations for dining and drinking. This means a fresh supply of food and water at all times. Any time birds congregate, there is a chance for the transmission of disease. Seed left in a feeder for a long period of time can harbor bacteria and viruses. Old, moldy seed left in the feeder will not attract wild birds.

Other Issues

Many people will only feed the birds in the winter months. It is reasonable to think that natural foods become abundant as the temperatures warm, but March and April can be the most stressful months for birds. Food supplies in the wild are almost exhausted, new crops are not yet ripened and insects still are dormant. A dependable source of supplemental food can be quite important to the birds. September and October are also good months to re-organize and enlarge your feeding station for the coming winter months.

People wonder whether bird feeding causes birds to change their migratory behavior. The cue that most birds use to migrate is the change in day length rather than the availability of food. Also, peak migration time is late summer and fall, a time when natural foods are readily available anyway. Experts feel that it is very unlikely that backyard feeding of birds has any negative effect on their migratory patterns.

If you feed birds, you’re in good company. Birding as a hobby currently stands second only to gardening as America’s favorite pastime. Take some time every day to observe and enjoy the bird-friendly environment you’ve created.

We would be interested in hearing from you with any questions or comments. You can contact us as follows:

e-mail: info@hotbirdseed.com

Phone: 1-888-636-1477

Fax: 1-716-873-8116

Snail mail:

Squirrel Free Products
255 Great Arrow Ave.
Buffalo, New York, 14207

Birds Love It

Birding Basics | Seed Preferences | Feeder Types