Backyard Nature Specialist

How to Attract the Widest Variety of Birds to Your Yard

How to Increase the Number of Birds Visiting Your Yard

Basic Setup Procedures

For the best results in attracting the widest variety and number of birds to your yard you should provide five things.

  1. A feeder with black oilers
  2. A feeder with a quality mixed seed
  3. A thistle feeder offering Niger Thistle or perhaps Thistle & Chips
  4. Offer suet in a suet cage
  5. A bird bath with fresh water every day
Black Oilers
Black Oil Sunflower SeedsBy offering a feeder with black oilers in it you will be providing the birds with important nutritional benefits that they need.  At the same time you will increase your chances of seeing different birds come to your area since black oilers appeal to over 40 different species of birds.

Black oilers should be offered in either a wood hopper style feeder or a tube feeder.  Use a large enough feeder to hold plenty of black oilers because the birds really love them and you don't want to have to refill your feeder daily.

Mixed Seed
When you provide a feeder with a quality mixed seed you increase your chances of seeing birds that are attracted to a certain kind of seed in the mix that would otherwise be lacking from offering only black oilers.  For example, the Indigo Bunting has been known to come to bird feeders for white millet.  Don't forget the delightful mourning doves either.

Mixed seed is also ideal for scattering on the open ground or offered in an open tray type feeder close to the ground.  This method helps attract birds that normally feed on the ground such as Northern Cardinals, juncos, and doves.

Thistle SeedThistle feeders are important because it will greatly increase the number of American Gold Finches that will visit your yard.  Who can resist the sweet song of these tiny birds with their bright yellow plumage adding such cheerful color to your yard?

Other finches such as Pine Siskins also like the thistle seed.  The thistle feeder has very small holes to accommodate the tiny thistle seed and to prevent it from pouring out all over the ground.

Suet is appealing to many birds such as Downy Woodpeckers, Hairy Woodpeckers, Red Bellied Woodpeckers, Chickadees, and Nuthatches to name just a few.  Commercially prepared suet cakes from your favorite Wild Bird supplier is easy to use, fits easily into the suet holders, and is less likely to go rancid prematurely than the suet offered by your local grocery store butcher.

Suet cakes are melted down and solidified two or more times and this makes them less likely to melt and go rancid as the straight raw suet can.  Suet cakes also have the added benefit of additional ingredients such as peanut hearts, seed mix, or even berries.  Suet cakes are easy to store, easy to use, and just less trouble all the way around.

Fresh Water
Bird BathProvide fresh water for the birds.  The importance of a bird bath with fresh water cannot be stressed enough.  Birds will use a readily available source of water for drinking and for bathing.  Birds take plenty of baths and it is fun to watch them splash all around.  Birds need a water supply to bathe in to keep their feathers in top flying condition.  Their lives depend on it.

Be sure to clean the bird bath out with a scrub brush daily or at least every couple of days.  This will avoid algae buildup.  The birds will not only be using the water as a drinking source but also to bathe in, so do the birds a favor and clean it out and refill it with fresh water.  How would you like to drink water that someone took a bath in?

Bird baths are still an important element in your nature plan in the cold winters Minnesota is known for.Nelson Bird Bath Heater  There are bird baths with built in heaters for winter use or you can buy a bird bath heater to be placed in the bowl of your own bird bath.  Use caution though.  If you place a heater in a plastic bird bath your all set.  However, if you have a concrete bird bath or some similar type of rigid material, then you should buy a plastic liner to be placed in the bowl of your bird bath.  These plastic liners are available at any reputable Wild Bird store.  The liner will avoid the problem of the expansion and contraction of freezing water and then cracking the bird bath bowl as concrete bird baths and similarly made bird baths are so well known for.

That way, if you should accidentally unplug the bird bath heater or your electrical power should go out, you don't run the risk of the water freezing and cracking your bird bath bowl.  It's well worth the small investment.  Besides, the liner is easy to lift out and clean!

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