Summer is a great time to discover new foods that attract more birds to your yard.
The arrival of warm weather means, for most of us, that the hummingbirds have arrived and a variety of colorful, tropical migrants — like buntings, orioles and others — are passing through our neighborhoods and in our own backyard.
Of the 650 species of birds in North America, approximately 50% of them migrate north as part of spring migration each year. These neotropical species, including the beloved Baltimore Oriole, are in search of abundant natural food sources and safe habitat to raise their nestlings before the long journey south during fall migration.
The timing of migration plays perfectly into attracting new and exciting birds to your yard. When birds first arrive after migration, they need high-energy snacks to sustain the tremendous amount of energy it takes for attracting a mate, building their nest and breeding.
Here are 7 bird feeding tips to attract more birds this summer:
1. Feed fruit or a small dish of grape jelly
Many birds love fruit. The natural sugars are “just what the doctor ordered,” if you will. Providing the birds with an all natural, high-energy snack to maintain high levels of energy while they find a mate, built their nest and start breeding.
Feeding jelly is also a great choice. Jelly is naturally rich in sugar, as long as you’re feeding a version without high-fructose corn syrup as an ingredient.
Ideally, you only want fruit, sugar and pectin as ingredients. You can also choose to make your own jelly at home, without pectin if you so choose.
The main goal here is to feed your birds a variety of seeds, nuts and fruit to meet their nutritional needs, depending on the season.
You can also slice grapes in half and add them to your jelly dish for an easy nutritional boost. The birds love it!
Plus, filling the dish only once a day encourages your birds to forage naturally nearby.
This supports their natural behavior, while also foraging for insects, which provide protein as an essential part of many birds’ diets after migration.
How to offer fruit to your backyard birds
Fruit is best offered on a feeder, located above the ground.
The built-in skewer on our fruit feeders holds the fruit in place. This makes it easy for the bird to eat, since the orange or apple won’t roll around or fall on the ground.
As for grapes, you can add halved grapes to jelly in a dish. Or add the bunch of grapes itself on top of a skewer or tree branch to hold the bundle in place, while birds pick out the grapes they want one at a time.
Learn more about fruit-eating birds.
2. Offer No-Melt Suet
No-Melt Suet has a different formula than regular suet. More cornmeal is added to decrease the likelihood of the suet melting in warm temperatures.
Cornmeal is a standard ingredient in suet cakes and nowadays there are many different flavors of no-melt suet available. Birds benefit from eating the cornmeal because it acts as “grit” and promotes proper digestion. Grit is an essential part of the bird’s diet in each season.
There’s a good chance you can keep feeding the type of suet your birds love, without losing your birds.
No-melt suet contains the same beneficial ingredients for feeding your birds, except the formula is perfectly suited for warm weather feeding.
Other than the “durability” of the cake itself, no-melt suets are popular as ever.
Since the suet won’t melt and your suet cage won’t get messy, your lawn stays clean without any clean-up necessary.
If you’re interested in making your own suet, here’s the basic suet recipe. Add seed, dried fruit or nuts, if desired.
3. Feed Nyjer seed with fruit mixed in
Goldfinches are found in yards throughout the U.S. all year-round.
Although goldfinches may resemble a different bird in appearance throughout the year, as they’re one of the only birds that molts twice a year.
With finches around, now is the perfect time to try a new seed mix.
Since finches love Nyjer seed, which is full of rich and nourishing oils, offering a seed mix like Nyjer Seed with Cranberries is a sure bet for attracting more finches. Not only can you attract more finches, you can attract new species, too. Fill your Nyjer tube feeder with Nyjer Seed with Cranberries and you can expect to see Purple Finches at your feeder, as long as they live in the area.
These dried cranberry pieces provide nutrition for your birds and are perfectly sized for your existing Nyjer tube feeder. The Nyjer seed keeps your finches coming back, while the cranberries attract more birds.
As the state bird of New Hampshire, one could say it’s quite an honor to attract Purple Finches to your yard. With any luck, and a little nesting material, you could attract them to nest nearby in your yard, too.
Learn more about the origins of Nyjer Seed and where it came from.
4. Provide nesting material for nesting birds
As soon as birds have found a dynamic place to nest – that is, an area with food, water and shelter nearby – they begin to build their nest and start breeding.
One way you can make this easier for them is to provide nesting material nearby.
It’s also a good idea to provide food like bird seed, water in a birdbath or waterer and shelter like a birdhouse for the species you want to attract.
Birds can build their nest within only a couple of days, so having the material on-hand and ready to use is helpful.
When choosing the type of material you want to offer, choose nesting material that dries quickly, like cotton.
You can offer other types of nesting material, including yarn, twine, and natural and untreated pet fur. These materials provide soft cushioning for the nesting area, holding the nest intact when it rains and protecting the eggs and nestlings nestled together inside. It’s worth noting that dryer lint disintegrates when wet and string tangles easily, as these are not preferred nesting materials to ensure the safety of your birds.
To keep the material easy for your birds to use, use 3 inch or no longer than 6 inch long pieces of yarn or twine. Shorter pieces like these are easy for birds to weave into their nest, allowing them to complete their nest faster and start breeding.
That’s why using all natural cotton, yarn, twine or natural and untreated pet fur are your best choices for nesting material.
Learn more about “Helping Nesting Birds.”
5. Feed premium seed, so there’s nothing to clean-up underneath your feeders
We’ve heard of people who feel discouraged when they feed the birds because they attract rats and mice.
However, it’s important to point out that these critters are only attracted by the wheat, milo and other “filler” ingredients that birds discard when picking out the seed they want.
Certain seed mixes contain wheat and milo and this is an indicator you’re not receiving the best value per pound. It means you’re only receiving a handful of the seeds birds like, and that’s it — instead of receiving several pounds of the seeds they love and that keep your birds coming back.
Wheat also attracts birds like doves, which may be welcome in your yard, depending on your preferences.
Premium seed attracts the birds you want, without wasting any seed.
Our premium seed contains no filler ingredients, so your birds won’t flick seed to the ground.
There won’t be anything to clean up underneath your feeders, especially if you choose our no-waste seed blends.
The difference between our premium seed and our no-waste seed is that the no-waste has hulled seed and nuts.
With the shells removed, there won’t be any seed found underneath your feeders. Cleaning up after the birds has never been easier.
Learn more about “Choosing Wild Bird Foods.”
6. Add cracked corn to your feeder
Cracked corn is a fun addition to your feeders.
Jays like it, so do doves, juncos and others.
Start by choosing a seed mix with cracked corn and see what new birds you attract.
Or if you have a seed mix your birds already like, then pick up cracked corn on its own and add it to your existing mix.
Works great for feeding on platform feeders, hopper feeders — or try it in your tube feeder.
7. Attract hummingbirds with your own hummingbird nectar
Hummingbirds are a delight to see in your yard! They are fast-moving, yet gentle and tiny birds. They can fly in all directions, even backwards.
Their wings make a noticeable “humming” noise when they’re nearby and the sound of their wings sets each hummingbird apart, similar to the identity of each person’s fingerprint. To make your own hummingbird nectar, start by mixing 1/4 cup of table sugar with 1 cup of water. Mix until sugar is thoroughly dissolved.
Clean your feeder. Once the water is at room temperature, fill your hummingbird feeder. Place outdoors and enjoy your hummingbirds!
Adjust the 4:1 sugar to water ratio as needed to fill your feeder.
Place leftover nectar in a labeled container in the fridge for up to a week.
You can also provide hummingbirds with a perching swing, encouraging these “flying jewels” to stay nearby and within view for hours of enjoyment.
Learn more about “Hummingbirds, Orioles and Nectar,” along with a few tips for offering nectar in your backyard.
Whether you try a new seed, attract more finches or make your own hummingbird nectar, using any of these tips — or all of them — will attract more birds to your yard.
Which of these bird feeding tips are you going to use first?
Reply and share your response on our Facebook page. Share this article with your friends and family today.
Written by Dawn Coutu
SOURCES AND INTERESTING LINKS
“Birdist Rule #70: Get Prepared for Spring Migration” Nicholas Lund, Audubon. Mar. 23, 2017. Jul. 17, 2019. <https://www.audubon.org/news/birdist-rule-70-get-prepared-spring-migration>.
“How Different Spring Migrants Decide When to Head North.” Kenn Kaufman, Audubon. Mar. 22, 2017. Jul. 17, 2019. <https://www.audubon.org/news/how-different-spring-migrants-decide-when-head-north>.
“Spring Birds: When Does Spring Migration Begin?” Dawn Hewitt, Bird Watcher’s Digest. 2019. Jul. 17, 2019. <https://www.birdwatchersdigest.com/bwdsite/solve/faqs/spring-birds.php>.
“The Basics Of Bird Migration: How, Why, And Where,” All About Birds. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Jan. 1, 2007. Jul. 17, 2019. <https://www.allaboutbirds.org/the-basics-how-why-and-where-of-bird-migration/>.