We put out a variety of foods for the birds to enjoy, including: a good bird seed mixture, suet cakes, sunflower seeds (black-oil), thistle seed, fruit, and a hummingbird feeder with homemade “nectar”. We also try to give the birds a water supply: a birdbath and a pond.
Making your own bird food can be a hands-on way to get kids involved in birdwatching. Get creative, use what you have, and have fun. Be sure to use foods that are nutritious for birds. Choose foods that would be healthy for you to eat that won’t harm the birds in any way.
Here is a website I found that has lots of recipes for homemade wild bird food.
Bird Seed: This will attract the largest variety of birds to your feeder, but be sure to clean your feeder on a regular basis to avoid bacterial and mold growth.
If you want a healthier mix for the birds, make your own. This is a great activity for you and your kids to do together. A mix of black oil sunflower, peanut, millet, striped sunflower, red and white milo, cracked corn, and wheat.
Suit Cakes: A great choice for attracting birds that eat insects. You can make your own by purchasing suet (beef kidney fat) from your local butcher shop or grocery store meat counter and mixing it with a mixture of wild bird seed, cracked corn, sunflower seeds, and/or berries. Visit A Home for Wild Birds for detailed instructions. Use a cookie cutter as a mold to make fun shapes. You can also purchase packaged suet cakes and feeders.
Sunflower Seeds: This is an excellent choice for song birds and birds that stay for the winter. Black-oil sunflower seeds are the best choice as the shells are thinner and easier for the birds to crack open to reach the ‘meat’ inside.
Thistle Seed: If you want to attract finch to your garden, use thistle seed, also known as Nyjer seed. You will need a special feeder with smaller holes, but it it well worth it. These are some of my favorite birds to watch, some of them turn upside down to eat.
Fruit: Offer fruit in early spring when there is a shortage of fruit on trees and bushes for birds to eat. We have offered fresh berries, apple chunks, grapes, orange halves, and melons. Dried fruit, such as raisins or currents that have been soaked for a short time in water can also be an excellent choice.
Fruit spoils more quickly, so be sure to empty and clean your feeders often.
In our area, fruit may attract an number of interesting birds, such as waxwings, robins, thrushes, bluebirds, mockingbirds, catbirds, orioles, and tanagers.
Homemade “Nectar”: Hummingbirds eat about 1 1/2 to 3 times their bodyweight in food per day. Their diets include flower nectar, spiders, and small insects. They are fascinating to watch, so if you haven’t already done so, invest in a hummingbird feeder and maybe a hummingbird garden. Homemade “Nectar” is easy to make and helps to supplement the hummingbird’s diet. It consists of 1 part sugar and 4 parts water. Click here for the details: Homemade Hummingbird Food.
What do you do to attract birds to your yard?