Saturday, Apr 21, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio

Kelly Heidbreder

Right food willlure birds to your yard

Now is a fine time to show backyard birds some hospitality by treating them to dinner.

The most important step in feeding backyard birds is to buy species-specific food. Find out what your favorite birds like to eat, and give it to them.

If you want to attract goldfinches, for example, put out black oil sunflower seed, thistle seed, and sunflower hearts. Cardinals like sunflower seeds, finely cracked corn, millet, and safflower.

If you like to watch chickadees, grosbeaks, or titmice, keep some black oil sunflower seed, cracked unsalted nutmeats, and suet on hand.

Bird treats can come from your kitchen instead of a seed bag. Birds like apples, bananas, berries, biscuits, bread, high-quality cat food, cheese, coconut, cookies, corn bread, and even corn on the cob.


Cardinals still like sunflower seeds, finely cracked corn, millet, and safflower.


Peanut butter and jelly isn't just for kids. Peanut butter is on the top of many birds' food list, and they also like jelly, especially grape. They will eat dried fruit, leftover eggs and shells, grapefruit, grapes, melon, and seeds. Orioles and finches love oranges. Bacon grease can be saved and used in suet recipes.

Fruit attracts orioles, tanagers, mockingbirds, bluebirds, thrashers, cardinals, woodpeckers, jays, starlings, thrushes, cedar waxwings, and yellow-breasted chats.

Peanut butter suet patties hanging from a tree will appeal to woodpeckers, goldfinches, juncos, cardinals, thrushes, jays, kinglets, bluebirds, wrens, and starlings. Hanging peanut feeders will attract woodpeckers, chickadees, and titmice.

When you put food out for birds, keep it off the ground. Bacteria can quickly grow and spread on food that is left on the ground and make the birds sick. Any flat surface will do. You can do something as simple as putting a pie plate filled with goodies on a picnic table. Many fruits and vegetables can be stuck on a nail mounted on a small piece of wood or platform feeder.

Many stores carry wild bird seed, but read the label on the bag to make sure you buy food your birds will eat. Avoid bags with large quantities of milo, oats, buck oats, wheat and grain byproducts. These are used as filler, and the birds usually let them fall to the ground.

Dirty, neglected feeders can kill the birds you are inviting. Many diseases like Salmonellosis, and Trichomoniasis are spread in and around dirty bird feeders. Some cleaning tips:

  • Clean and disinfect feeders regularly.

  • Clean old seed and droppings off trays and the ground when you can.

  • Give your feeder plenty of space.

  • Use good quality food that isn't too old or moldy and store it in a clean dry container.

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