Bird Feeders: Many Styles & Purposes
Today, we’ll be diving deeper into the world of bird feeders. The type of birds your feeder will attract all depends on the type of feeder you choose and, what you fill it with. If your interest is to attract the greatest number of birds possible, it is important to have a number of different, well situated birdfeeders available. Location is also important, feeders should be placed out of the wind near trees or shrubs to provide sufficient cover for safe refuge from predators and shelter from the wind and weather.
Tube feeders are designed to attract smaller sunflower-eating birds to your station. These lighter feeders can be hung from a tree branch or lightweight hook. Tube feeders are also a good choice if you are trying to discourage larger birds like jays from taking over the feeder.
Finch Feeders are designed to hold niger or thistle seed that is attractive to winter finches such as Purple Finch and American Goldfinch. Peanut feeders are designed to hold shelled or unshelled peanuts for woodpeckers and Jays.
Placing seed in a ground feeder entices birds such as sparrows, juncos and Mourning Doves. Platform and hopper type feeders are especially good for attracting cardinals, chickadees and jays. Hanging feeders are preferred by chickadees, nuthatches and finches. Suet feeders attract woodpeckers and nuthatches.
Filling Your Feeder
Black oil sunflower seed is a great overall seed to offer in the winter. It has a high calorie/ounce ratio due to its high fat and protein content and its relatively thin shell. Black oil sunflower seed has twice the calories per pound than striped sunflower seeds and its smaller shells make less mess when discarded by the birds. Hulled sunflower seeds make even less mess, but tend to be more expensive.
Suet is a great food to offer many of the birds that will visit backyards in the winter. Suet is a high energy, pure fat substance which is invaluable in winter when insects are harder to find and birds need many more calories to keep their bodies warm. Suet cakes come in many varieties including those mixed with peanut butter, dried fruit, and insects and mealworms which will attract a variety of birds. Suet is usually hung in some sort of cage that allows birds to cling to it while they feed.
Peanuts are high in protein and fats and are another great food to offer birds in the wintertime. They are a favorite treat for many winter residents especially Blue Jays, nuthatches and woodpeckers.
Mixed seed blends are often filled with cracked corn and red millet “filler” which is undesirable to most species. Birds tend to dig through the filler and make a mess below the feeder as they search for the few tasty sunflower seeds or peanuts in the mix. It is better to spend the money on a large bag of black oil sunflower seeds that you know are going to be eaten and will result in the least amount of waste.
Connect To Nature
Once you have your feeders set up, grab a bird identification guide, a pair of binoculars and see what stops by. Ontario is home to a variety of local winter birds, the most common include:
- Northern Cardinal
- Black-capped Chickadee
- Mourning Dove
- Blue Jay
- Dark-eyed Junco
- Purple Finch
- Pine Siskin
- Common Redpolls
- House Finch
- American Tree Sparrow
- Song Sparrow
- American Goldfinch
- White-breasted Nuthatch
- Red-breasted Nuthatch
- Downy Woodpecker
- Hairy Woodpecker
- Red-bellied Woodpecker