- Cracked corn attracts sparrows, quail, and doves;
- Hummingbirds and orioles feed on homemade nectar;
- Live and dried mealworms are a source of protein favored by bluebirds, wrens, chickadees, titmice, and nuthatches.
- Millet is a fav for many ground-feeding birds like juncos and sparrows.
- Nyjer is good at attracting American Goldfinches, Common Redpolls, and Pine Siskins.
- Oats are known to attract doves and quail.
- Peanuts and peanut hearts - pieces of shelled peanuts - are favored by titmice, jays, chickadees, and nuthatches.
- Safflower attracts big-billed birds like cardinals.
- Caked suet is a fav treat of insect-eating birds!
- Sunflower seeds are the most popular feeder seed type; they are a fav food of finches, cardinals, chickadees, sparrows, and even woodpeckers.
- Bake the seeds in the oven for half an hour at 300 F/150 C/Gas Mark 2
- Cook the seeds placed into a paper bag in the microwave oven for 5 minutes on high power.
- Discard old seeds;
- Soak the feeder overnight in a dilute bleach solution (one part bleach to nine parts water) or a weak vinegar solution;
- Scrub the feeder and let it air dry;
- Wash your hands thoroughly.
- Remove soiled mulch from under the feeder;
- Remove any loose seeds from the ground;
- Cover the area with fresh mulch;
- Wash your hands thoroughly.
- Avoid honey and artificial sweeteners, sugar only;
- Add a thin layer of cat litter into the bottom of the feeder to absorb water and prevent mold growth;
- Clean your feeder often to remove empty hulls and bird droppings and keep mold away;
- Clean and refill nectar trays for hummingbirds once in two to five days; keep an eye out for cloudy water and remove it immediately if you notice any sign of mold.
Bird Feeding Issues and Solutions
- Tie a bell to your cat's collar and ask your neighbors to do the same.
- If there are stray cats in your neighborhood, try live trapping but make sure you contact your local Wildlife Management before you relocate the unwanted guest, as in some areas it is illegal.
- When hanging your feeder in a tree, make sure that the branch you choose is twelve or more feet away from the trunk and four or more feet above the ground. This way you will keep away the squirrels that might jump into the feeder from the tree or the ground. Use a very thin line or wire to hang the feeder.
- If you mount your feeder on a pole, choose the pole that is 5-12 or more feet long - you will poke it a foot deep into the ground and leave the required 4 feet above to place your feeder out of the reach of squirrels.
- Get a 16-in squirrel baffler.
- Use a seed catcher;
- Keep unused seeds in sealed plastic bags or tightly closed cans;
- Use specific traps.
Raccoons can climb poles, so you should try surrounding the one your feeder is mounted on with a 2-in long piece of stove pipe 6-in in diameter.
You can also use squirrel and raccoon repellents - they are not harmful to the birds, as their main ingredient is capsaicin pepper, which birds cannot smell.
- House Finches - remove perches ;
- Blue Jays and other large aggressive birds - choose a bird feeder with a wire mesh that will protect the seed reservoir;
- Sparrows and Blackbirds - remove cracked corn from your seed mix;
- Sparrows and Doves - avoid using seed mixes.
- Shut the blinds;
- Pull shades down;
- Hang a bright ribbon outside the window;
- Adorn windows with stickers;
- If nothing of the above helps, relocate the feeder.