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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Quality hints on feeding birds

Thursday, October 14, 2010

It is starting to get close to the time of year when you might begin thinking about attracting colorful birds to your yard.

Often, you attract birds by providing them with a food source that is close to their natural diet as you can find. That food source can be found by using bird feeders or by landscaping your yard with specific plants.

During your quest to attract birds to your yard, you might encounter several different types of feeders. A few of the different types include gravity feeders, open-shelf feeders, ground feeders and suet feeders.

Gravity feeders usually have a roof and glass or plastic sides so that the bird can see the feed inside it. Often times, they are shaped like little houses or barns.

Open-shelf feeders may or may not have roofs and usually do not have sides except for a small rim that keeps the seed from falling out. This type of feeder allows the bird to see all around. This helps them protect themselves from predators.

Ground feeders simply allow the food to be scattered on a clear patch of ground. Some birds do prefer this type of feeder over others since they are hesitant to trust a man-made feeder.

Suet feeders are wire baskets that you can either hang from a post or attach to the side of the building that will hold suet.

In addition to the four types of feeders mentioned here, there are numerous specialty feeders available on the market. A few examples include birdseed logs, pine cones dipped in fat and thistle socks.

Just like the different types of feeders on the market, there are many types of feed available.

Birds often have a preference for the type of feed, which is why it is generally best to decide what type of bird you would like to attract to your yard before purchasing your seed.

Cardinals, chickadees, nuthatches, woodpeckers and finches all like black "oil-type" sunflower seeds.

Millets are commonly used to attract cardinals, chickadees and woodpeckers.

In comparison, thistle seed is often used to feed goldfinches and other finches. If you would elect to purchase a premix feed from a store, realize that you can supplement that mix by adding any other ingredient you would like in order to help attract a specific type of bird.

Once you have purchased your feed and feeder, realize that your work does not end.

Instead, you will have to spend a great deal of time throughout the winter months refilling the feeder. At least once a month, it is a good idea to take some time and clean and disinfect the feeder when it is empty. By doing this, you help reduce the risk of disease.

This is especially important if you choose to feed birds throughout the summer months when mold can easily grow.

In addition to providing your birds with feed, you might want to invest in a few other items. Specifically, you may want to provide them with a birdbath, electric immersion water heater and metal flashing.

Just like humans, birds need water at all times. During the winter months, natural sources of water are often frozen, thus you can provide the bird with their required water by purchasing a birdbath and an electric immersion water heater.

The metal flashing can be used to protect the birds from predators. You can place the flashing in the air about 4-feet up. Remember to wrap the flashing around the post the feeder is located on. This then acts as a guard that prevents some predators from reaching the birds while they eat at the bird feeder.

Watching birds visit a feeder throughout the winter can be a great family pastime. You may decide to invest in a bird guide so that you can identify all the interesting birds that visit your feeder.

As always, if you have any questions or would like information on any agriculture, horticulture, or natural resource topic, then please contact your local Purdue Extension Office at 448-9041 in Clay County or 812-829-5020 in Owen County, or reach me directly at smith535@purdue.edu.

Purdue University is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution.

Upcoming opportunities available to you through Purdue Extension include:

* Saturday -- 66th IBEP Bull Sale and Springville Feeder Auction Association's Bred Heifer Sale, 2 p.m.,

* Oct. 21 -- IDNR Woodland Owner Workshop, 6-8 p.m. RSVP by calling 1-765-653-9785,

* Oct. 23 -- Energy Conservation Expo, Wabash Valley Fairgrounds, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., and

* Oct. 30 -- Fall-o-ween, McCormick's Creek State Park.