Three Ways to Take Birdwatching to the Next Level
Get up close and personal encounters with wild, winged creatures with a feeding station that invites them to return for another bite to eat.
Mary Poppins might have enjoyed feeding the birds in the park at tuppence a bag, but visions of pigeons pooping on your shoulder might have you wanting a little more distance in your bird feeding efforts. Depending on where you live, the type of seed or other bird food you provide and the type of feeder you use can help you be selective in, for example, attracting more goldfinches and fewer starlings, and you can watch safely indoors through your windows.
For some, just any birds will do, and the more the merrier. But others might prefer more colorful songbirds, and fewer blue jays, for example, or perhaps favor native birds over invasives like starlings or English sparrows. Identifying your bird preferences and learning something about them will help you provide a feeding station more likely to attract them.
While basic assorted bird seeds will cover a variety of bird species, you can be more selective with, say, black oil sunflower seeds. They may cost more but there is far less waste, and fewer sparrows. Finches prefer Nyjer or thistle seed, which requires a special feeder for the tiny seed. Bird diets will vary with the season. Summer insect eaters will switch to berries in winter, for example. A great way to attract woodpeckers or bluebirds is with waxworm-embedded suet (a processed cake made with melted fat mixed with seed, berries, waxworms, etc.). Choose a feeder designed for the seed or other food your birds most like.
In many places you can get by with a simple, inexpensive seed or suet-holding feeder. All you need is to keep the seed dry and place it outdoors near shelter for the birds. A good feeder will offer a perch for birds to use when feeding. Some models are available with mechanisms triggered by the weight of a bird or squirrel, thus closing the portal and preventing access. These feeders can work well when large birds like crows or squirrels are a problem.