Autumn and winter can be challenging seasons for our feathered friends, but we can help by providing nourishing food at a time when natural food supplies are scarce. Leaving spent flowers of plants such as Echinacea, Sunflower, Black-eyed Susan, and the daintier Brown-eyed Susan during fall garden cleaning will provide seed heads for birds during winter. Choosing the right seed mixtures for bird feeders is important as not all commercial seed mixtures are created equally and may contain cheap fillers such as milo or oats. Specialized food will attract specific birds to your yard:
Nyger Seed – This thistle seed attracts goldfinch, common redpoll, pine siskin, song sparrow, and small finches.
White Proso Millet – An inexpensive grain favored by ground-feeding birds and may be offered in a hopper feeder to attract dark-eyed junco, eastern towhee, and painted bunting.
Safflower – Attracts northern cardinal, purple finch, white-winged dove, and evening grosbeak but is unattractive to gray squirrels.
Black Oil Sunflower – Valued for its high oil content. Attracts black-capped chickadee, nuthatch, blue jay, and purple finch.
Mealworms – Attract bluebird, American robin, chickadee, nuthatch, tufted titmouse, wren, oriole, woodpecker, and pine warbler.
Cracked Corn (non-GMO) – Beloved by ground feeders such as ring-necked pheasant, quail, and mourning dove. This feed is susceptible to rot when wet, so avoid the finely cracked type.
Warning: Never put out grapes or raisins as they are extremely toxic to dogs.
Lastly, always provide birds with fresh, clean water for drinking, bathing, and grooming of feathers.
- Geneva Claire Hamilton