I love that my son Erik and daughter-in-law Kaitlyn live in the basement apartment of our house! Especially because I get to benefit from his obsessions/hobbies! Today Erik is sharing his latest with us. :-)
This year, I have taken great interest in feeding the wild birds in my neighborhood. I love animals, and was eager to put out some bird seed to see what kind of nature I could attract to my doorstep. It started with a standard, inexpensive, seed blend from the grocery store and slowly but surely the birds made their way to our feeder. But it didn’t take an expert to see that some ingredients in the mix were MUCH more preferred than others.
Generally, the cheaper the bird seed mix, the more “filler ingredients” it contains. Things like ‘Milo’, sorghum, wheat berries, and other grain-products that most song birds will just push aside, are very common in several bargain seed blends.
I then tried a more premium blend from a specialty bird store, and the amount of birds I saw each day increased exponentially! However, because I’m obsessive, and slightly controlling, I thought that I could do the same thing, myself. I could control what ingredients went in, and how much of each ingredient I put in. These can be found in a grocery store bulk-bin, or most bird/nature shops will sell individual seed types in bulk. This way, I can find the cheapest and best possible source for each. I first just had to consider which birds I wanted to see each day.
First: the primary ingredient in almost any bird seed blend should be Sunflower seeds. Period. I prefer mine pre-shelled to prevent a mess under the feeder, but no other ingredient will attract seed-eating birds like Sunflower. Every bird I’m hoping to see this year will enjoy it.
Second: Millet, particularly White Millet. A favorite of Juncos, Finches, Cardinals, and the most epic pair of Lazuli Buntings I’ve ever seen come through my yard. Just brilliant!
Third: Shelled Peanuts. Jays, Nuthatches, Chickadees, and Woodpeckers love the stuff. In order for it to get dispensed with the other seeds in my feeder, I run a chopping knife over them for a quick dice. This just keeps the big pieces from clogging up the feeder ports.
Fourth: Cracked Corn. I have some really cool Mourning Doves that love to eat what falls to the ground beneath the feeder, and they love the cracked corn. So do the Sparrows and Quail, who feed happily alongside them on the ground.
Fifth: Dried Fruit. As soon as I added fruit to the mix, I quickly began seeing a family of gorgeous Evening Grosbeaks, and a spectacular Western Tanager. Consider which birds are local to you, and fruit-eaters, and you can find the best kind of dried fruit to add to your mix.
My mixture for all the ingredients in my blend is about 70% Sunflower kernels, 10% millet, 10% peanuts (diced), 5% cracked corn, and 5% dried fruit. As stated above, sunflower is the most consumed thing at the feeder, and it should be the basis for any blend you concoct, based on what birds you want to attract (or discourage).
Then I just add each measured amount to a clean bucket/container for a quick stirring, so each ingredient gets dispensed evenly.
Once your custom mix is well-combined, it’s feeding time! I bought this particular feeder recently and really like how it has both perches, and a small tray to collect seeds to let slightly bigger songbirds come in. Different birds prefer different stands. But neither the perches or the tray are big enough for the peskier birds.
Every region of the country has different birds, and a quick Google search will tell you what ingredients to add to your own customized bird seed mix.
My favorite birds to come through my Utah yard have been the Western Scrub Jay, the Western Tanager, and the Evening Grosbeak.
What is your favorite backyard bird?