Better Bird Feeding

Martha Stewart
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In cold temperatures, birds flock to backyard feeders in search of sustenance. Their presence provides a welcome bit of wildlife near the home, and feeders help local bird populations survive during the colder months.

Feathered friends can be discerning eaters, though, so make sure to buy the right seed for local species, keep it safely stored, and clean your feeder every once in a while.

TYPES OF BIRDSEED:

Depending on what type of birds you hope to attract, you may opt to use one or more of these birdseed varieties.

  • General Seed Mix: Composed of cracked corn, white millet, and peanut hearts, general seed mix attracts a wide array of birds, such as blue jays, doves and red-winged blackbirds.
  • Thistle Seed:
 Thistle seed is suitable for attracting smaller birds, such as goldfinches and siskins. Also called Nyjer seed, its high oil content is easily converted into energy.
  • Sunflower Seeds:
 Perfect for attracting cardinals, chickadees and nuthatches, sunflower seeds — particularly black-oil sunflower seeds — are among the healthiest foods a bird can eat.

  • Suet:
 Suet attracts the same type of birds as sunflower seeds, and it’s especially popular with woodpeckers. Suet is made of animal fat plus a mixture of seeds, peanut butter, berries, and/or insects.

STORING SEED:

It’s important to keep birdseed in a cool, dry place — overheating can ruin its taste and nutritional value, and moisture can cause seeds to mold. Martha recommends storing your feed in galvanized pails and labeling your containers so you don’t forget which variety is which.

HOW TO CLEAN A BIRD FEEDER:

To keep your feeder in pristine condition, it’s important to empty it and clean it out twice a year. Scrubbing with dish detergent works well for most feeders, and you can rinse it off with a garden hose. To completely sterilize your feeder, soak it in a bucket of 10 percent non-chlorine bleach solution, rinse well, and let it air-dry under the sun.

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