Living in central Virginia, we are fortunate to have a large variety of Wild Birds. In addition, we live on one of the four migration “fly-ways” in the Eastern Hemisphere. (I will discuss this topic further when I talk about Migration.) Even if you don’t live in the RVA area, there are more Wild Birds in your neighborhood then you probably know.
Wild Birds need four things:
- Trees and Shrubs
- Shelter (Natural and Man-made)
- Food Source
You most likely have some trees and shrubs in your yard. The more variety the better, especially native trees and shrubs. If you do not have water in or near your yard, a bird bath, preferably with moving water, does wonders. Many birds nest and shelter in trees, bushes or ground cover, however some prefer man made bird houses, roosting houses or hanging plants. The most important of all is a food source! You may also have some natural food sources such as flowers, berries, sap and bugs, however many wild birds prefer seeds or nuts.
Wild birds are very smart and although they have no taste buds, they do rely on sight and watching other birds, when choosing food. Many birds are extremely fussy.
American Goldfinches and House Finches for instance, love nyjer seeds but only if they are FRESH. nyjer seeds (thistle) absorb moisture quickly and the older the seed is, the more likely it passed on by. Make sure you shake the nyjer feeder every couple days to help maintain it’s freshness.
Most seed eating wild birds love sunflower seeds. Some, such as Northern Cardinals have beaks to crack open the seeds. Others like Carolina Chickadees and Tufted Titmice would rather eat shell less seeds. Safflower seeds are commonly enjoys by many wild birds too.
Woodpeckers, Nuthatches and Blue Jays love nuts, especially peanuts! Offering a variety of fresh seeds and nuts will help you attract different wild birds.
Adding a suet feeder to your yard will also attract a variety of wild birds like various Woodpeckers, Nuthatches, Cat Birds, Wrens and Warblers.
Eastern Bluebirds, Northern Mockingbirds and just about any new “parents” will visit a mealworm feeder or dish. Wild birds prefer to feed fledglings live mealworms but dried mealworms will suffice as well.
Remember, it is very important to buy food that is fresh. Local wild bird stores like ours, Bird Watchers RVA, have food delivered directly from the farm 2-4 times a month to ensure fresh, top quality food, unlike Big Box stores that purchase in bulk. By by the time it arrives at the store, it is already several weeks if not several months old!
Big Box stores often add cheap fillers such as millet, corn or even sticks, that the birds do not like. Check the ingredients! Wild birds need real, natural ingredients, just like in nature, without indigestible vitamins or minerals. Also look at the first few ingredients that are listed. The main ingredients are listed in numerical order. Corn or Millet should NOT be listed as the first ingredient! They are simply cheap fillers and provide little to no nutrition for wild birds.
The fresher the food and the more variety you offer, the more wild birds will visit your yard.
Feed Birds ~ Enjoy Nature!