BirdsYou can encourage them to visit your yard regularly by feeding them an appropriate food and working to improve their habitat.
There are many native birds in our area and watching them is a fascinating pastime. You can encourage them to visit your yard regularly by feeding them an appropriate food and working to improve their habitat. There are several different types of bird feeders available, to suit both the type of birds expected and the style you would like. The four most common ones are tray feeders, tubular seed dispensers, hummingbird feeders and suet feeders.
Suet provides birds, particularly chickadees and woodpeckers, with needed fat in the winter. You can buy suet from the meat counter of your grocery store, but it is much easier to purchase the suet cakes made for that purpose. They come in several varieties. There are holders made for suet cakes that can be set on posts or deck railings or hung from tree branches.
Sparrows like the variety of mixed bird seed, while Chickadees and Blue Jays prefer sunflower seeds. These are available in several sized bags, including "large economy" for those who have become well known by the birds of the neighbourhood. Niger seed (enjoyed by Nuthatches), sunflower meal, and cracked corn are also available. If squirrels are a problem, there are baffles made to stop them from robbing your feeders of food.
Hummingbird nectar is available for sale - simply add water. If you make your own food, use one part sugar to four parts boiling water, boiling for a few minutes. Do not use honey - it can be fatal to birds if a mould forms in it. Also, do not add red food coloring to the hummingbird food - it is harmful to the birds.
Tray feeders can be plastic or wood, and vary in size. If you would like to feed sparrows and chickadees, a small feeder might be ample, but will need refilling often. If blue jays are in your area, a sturdy, larger feeder will be necessary. Some have several sections so you can serve different food to your feathered friends. These feeders can be set on posts or railings of decks, attached to eaves of buildings or hung from tree branches. They are generally easy to fill and have some sort of cover to keep snow and rain out of the seed hopper. Plastic feeders usually have at least two clear plastic sides so you can tell if they need filling. Some people prefer wood (usually cedar) because it looks more natural - these will have to be checked frequently as seed can't always be seen.
Tubular feeders are usually clear plastic. Be sure it is easy to fill and also to take apart for cleaning. It is also important that it is sturdy enough that squirrels cannot take it apart! These feeders are usually hung from tree branches. The small birds that use them need a place to hide from predators. They can easily move into the centre of a large spruce tree, amongst the branches; so that is an ideal place to hang a tubular feeder, if you are fortunate to have a large spruce tree.
Hummingbird feeders will possibly attract these delightful little birds, especially if you live in an area where there is water close by. Choose a well made one - a good seal will prevent drips, and drips attract ants, bees and wasps. Also be sure it is easy to clean, as this is very important. Most hummingbird feeders have a red plastic flower to draw the bird's attention to the feeding holes. Hummingbird feeders can be made of plastic or glass. The plastic ones aren't as breakable, but the glass ones will be more durable if breakage is not likely to be a problem. There are also novelty designs available.
At first, place the feeder some distance from the house, as birds might feel threatened by the movement of people. It can gradually be moved closer if you desire. It should be easily seen from inside the house, where you can keep a pair of binoculars handy. A tree close by to fly to is a safety feature, but a shrub very close can conceal a cat - choose your place carefully.
Coniferous evergreens such as Spruce, Pine, Juniper, and Cedar provide refuge and nesting sites for birds. Other trees and shrubs as well as most annual flowers also attract birds. See our epert staff for many ideas on how to attract birds and feed them, building birdhouses and nest boxes, and recognizing birds.