Birds may be offered a wide variety of foods, but generally each species favors a particular kind of diet. They may be feed with seed mixtures, seed-suet cakes and suet among others. There are many species that utilize coarse sand or ground oyster shells and clam shells as grit, certain birds enjoy coarse salt.
Bird feeders should contain the right kind of food to be useful to the type of birds one wishes to attract. Almost all species would eat crumbs of bread, nuts, dog biscuits, doughnuts, pancakes and cakes. Greasy crumbs such as those from doughnuts and pancakes are especially relished in very cold weather.
Mourning Doves, Pigeons, Meadowlarks, Bobwhites, Pheasants and Ruffed Grouse enjoy large grains such as oats, corn, wheat and rye. Sunflower seeds are very much sought by Chickadees, Nuthatches, Cardinals, Grosbeaks, Titmice, Jays, Crossbills and Finches. All these birds plus Juncos, Siskin, Redpolls, Snow Buntings and most kinds of Sparrows like small grains and seeds such as millet, hemp, rape, milo, buckwheat, canary seed and crushed corn.
Fatty and oily substances such as peanut butter, suet and doughnut crumbs are preferred by Chickadees, Titmice, Woodpeckers, Nuthatches, Creepers, Kinglets and Jays. Ducks, Swans and various other waterfowls cannot resist bread, corn and wheat scattered in shallow water. Fruits, such as raisins and pieces of apples and pear are suited for Waxwing, Cardinals and Thrushes. The Hummingbird’s unique favorite is sugar water which is a solution that consists of two parts water to one part sugar.
Birds may be attracted to a feeding station by placing food on several directions and at some distance from the bird feeders. The distance can be gradually shortened until the birds are concentrated at the desired point. Birds may also be lured to a particular spot by a trolley feeder. This is a bird feeder that is suspended from a wire that can be moved closer to the desired location each day.
It is advisable to start putting out bird feeders in the fall, before they establish their winter feeding routine. Bird feeders should be placed at a site where birds are known to visit if feeding is begun in the winter. Regardless of the season, birds are especially attracted by a water supply.
The right food needs to be in the right kind of bird feeders to attract the right kind of birds. Black oil sunflower seeds in a hopper or tube feeder attracts Cardinals, Finches, Jays and Sparrows of various types. Fruits on a fruit or platform feeder attract Orioles, Tanagers, Mockingbirds, Woodpeckers, Cedars, Waxwing, Jays, Chats and Bluebirds.
Cracked corn on a platform feeder will have very willing visitors such as the Pheasants, Quails, Doves and different types of Sparrows. A suet feeder or tree smeared with peanut butter suet is simply irresistible to Mockingbirds, Flickers, Woodpeckers, Goldfinches, Jays, Juncos, Chickadees, Wrens and Titmouse. A tube feeder with peanuts will certainly attract Cardinals, Sparrows, Starlings, Chickadees, Juncos, Finches, Titmouse, Grackles, Doves and Jays.
The choices of food and the combination of food and bird feeder type are in no way limited to those mentioned above. These are the generally accepted way of presenting food to birds of different species. Being able to take a closer look at these birds will lead man to discover better options and choices.