Feeding the Birds

With the help of my parents, one of the first things I did when I moved into our house in Kentucky was put up bird feeders. I ended up getting three different kinds of feeders: hummingbird feeders, a tube feeder (for seeds) and a suet feeder for the woodpeckers.

I fed the hummingbirds from early August lasting until about the first of October. At first I purchased the nectar for the feeder but soon realized I could make it myself. It’s a simple mixture of water and sugar (1 part sugar, 4 parts water). Within a day we had ruby-throated hummingbirds at our feeders! We saw mostly females and realized after time they were territorial over the feeder. One hummingbird in particular seemed to take up residents on the feeder, feeding and defending its territory. We ended up calling her Stevie.

As for my tube feeder I experimented with the seed to see what seeds the birds were eating. The first seed mixture contained niger seed, safflower, black oil sunflower seed, peanuts, white millet, sunflower chips, canary seed, raisins, red millet, and juniper berries. The birds loved this and if it wasn’t for the cost ($16 for an 8 lb bag), I probably would have continued to purchase this seed mixture. So I tried another mix, which had a large portion of white millet in it. However, I soon realized much of it was being discarded by the birds. After talking with a few other people in the area and back home in Iowa, I decided to buy two different kinds of seed and mix it together (safflower and black oil sunflower seed). So far this mixture has gone over well. I consistently attract cardinals, chickadees, titmouse, house finch, morning doves, slate colored junco and the occasional squirrel.

My third feeder, the suet feeder, has been the least successful at attracting birds. I’m not sure if it’s the flavor of suet I chose to put in the feeder or if it’s the lack of birds that prefer to eat suet. I have seen a few downy woodpeckers and one red-bellied woodpecker but they do not frequent the feeders (or my backyard) like the other birds. So far the two cakes I have in the feeder have lasted me four months.

Feeding the birds has been a real joy over these past few months. In the future I hope to continually add new feeders to hopefully attract a greater variety of birds. Until then I will enjoy now what I have in my backyard!

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