Bird feeding–how to get started

November 16, 2010

Bird feeding is a hobby enjoyed by over 48 million Americans!  And there’s little wonder why.  Bird feeding is relaxing and exciting at the same time. You can watch the birds from inside or outside. You can have only one bird feeder, or several.  You can feed one kind of bird food or experiment with many bird foods. How you enjoy your new hobby is totally up to you. But once you start feeding and attracting birds into your yard, everyday brings something new, along with a lot of color and activity!

So how can you get started on this wonderful hobby? We have a few suggestions for you to get you going in no time.

First, you’ll need a birdfeeder.  There are many options here, but for someone just starting out, we recommend a simple tube feeder. These feeders are uncomplicated, well-liked by birds, and are lightweight so they can be hung almost anywhere. Duncraft’s Original Tube Feeder has been a best seller for years. It’s an excellent quality feeder at an affordable price.

Next, you’ll need birdseed.  Again, there are countless foods you can offer the birds, but you absolutely can’t go wrong with pure, . Backyard birds love them! This seed is inexpensive and extremely nourishing. When you feed these seeds, you can be sure you’re providing excellent nutrition for the birds. Be careful about buying birdseed at your grocery store.  Often it has many seeds in it that birds won’t eat and you’ll be wasting your money.

Once you have your bird feeder filled and hung and have started to attract a few birds, there are a few more basics you might like to offer. While not immediately necessary, another food that birds love is suet—especially in winter. There are a number of ways to feed suet, but the easiest is to purchase suet cakes that fit in an inexpensive suet basket and hang that near your seed feeder. Some birds, like woodpeckers, simply crave suet!

One other seed that could be considered part of a basic feeding plan is Nyjer seed, sometimes incorrectly called thistle seed.  It’s not the seed from a thistle plant, but it’s similar.  It’s extremely small seed that goldfinches adore! It needs to be offered in a special feeder so the seeds won’t fall out. There are many types of Nyjer feeders, but the most inexpensive is a sock-like feeder. Goldfinches especially love clinging to these socks to get their very favorite food.

At some point, you may also want to offer water to round out your feeding area. We highly recommend buying a heated birdbath right from the start so the birds can have water year-round.  You could start with any birdbath and add a heater later for winter but a heated bath is much more convenient and you won’t have to worry about the heater not being completely submerged at all times. And not all regular bird baths can accept a separate heater because of the materials they’re made with.  If you want to offer water year-round, splurging on a heated birdbath is definitely the way to go.

Once you’ve completed your basic feeding area, and have started watching the birds, we’re sure you’ll soon have a wish list of your own!  In closing, we’d like to offer a few tips to really enhance your experience with the birds:

Keep your birdfeeder clean at all times.  Check frequently to make sure there aren’t any moldy seeds in there and that it’s free of bird droppings. Clean birdfeeders mean healthy birds.

Keep the water in your birdbath fresh and free of debris also.  Birds need clean water to drink and bathe in.

Lastly check your suet to make sure it’s not dripping in the heat or has gotten moldy for some reason and replace it if it’s not still fresh.

That’s all it really takes to start enjoying the birds!

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

p November 26, 2010 at 2:13 am

Why do people spend so much time and effort to deter squirrels? We welcome birds to our feeders and enjoy watching them. Squirrels have to eat too! They’re cute and funny and share the feeders with the birds. If you didn’t spend the extra money on the “squirrel proof feeder” you could afford to feed and enjoy them. Watch the family play together!! Humans should be so happy!!

papasnow November 27, 2010 at 2:07 am

I can barely get the black oil sunflower seeds on the feeder tray before the birds are trying to get them. A suggestion…another favorite of most of the birds…that is also very good for them, especially in the winter…is shelled PEANUT bits.

Duncraft November 29, 2010 at 9:55 am

Glad to hear some people like squirrels! We do too and have lots of products to feed squirrels with. And peanuts and peanut bits are a great hit with lots of different birds and a real nutritious treat!

Pamela January 2, 2011 at 3:17 pm

I have been feeding birds for years and I have noticed the lack of birds in my area, backyard and at my feeders has greatly deminished. I live in North Carolina, a residental area about 45 minutes outside of Charlotte, NC. I’ve contacted many bird related associations and had no luck in getting an answer, “What happened to all the Birds”? I’m very concerned, don’t understand why there’s no birds around our area, etc.

Duncraft January 4, 2011 at 8:49 am

Hi Pamela,
There’s really no way to answer where your birds went. Birds are constantly moving, especially in winter when they basically follow the food supply. They only get about 25% of their diet from bird feeders. During winter they still forage for remaining berries and fruits and seeds left on bushes and grasses. I’m supposing your area just doesn’t have enough of these food items this year for one reason or another and the birds have moved to better foraging grounds.

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