- Don’t Buy Birdseed, Grow It!
- Outdoors Extra
- Who Wants to Kill Birds?
- Thistle: Don’t Blame the Bird Seed
- Wild Bird Seed Mixes – Problems With Bird Seeds In The Garden
- Bird Feeder Problems
- Avoiding Problems with Bird Seeds
Don’t Buy Birdseed, Grow It!
Feeding the birds can be rewarding, but it can also be expensive. Rather than spending money on birdseed, why not grow the plants that provide food for birds? Growing birdseed is a great idea for a number of reasons, including:
- Bird-friendly gardens that offer different types of food, including seeds, grain, fruits, and nectar, will attract a greater variety of species that may be shy and uncomfortable visiting a busy feeder.
- Birders who enjoy gardening can combine two passions at once. Growing a bountiful harvest will not only test gardening expertise but will also satisfy hungry bird appetites.
- Growing birdseed ensures safer seeds without unknown chemical enhancements or pesticide treatments. Instead, you are in control of every step of the growth and harvesting and can ensure the plants are safe for birds.
How to Grow a Birdseed Garden
Growing a birdseed garden is no more difficult than growing any type of flower, vegetable, or herb garden. It is important, however, to ensure the garden is bird-friendly in more than just the food it produces.
- Location: Birdseed gardens are most productive in full or partial sun, which will provide the best light for productive crops. Brighter light will also catch birds’ attention more quickly, alerting them to the new food source with every flower that blooms.
- Size: A garden does not need to be large to feed birds, and even one container on your patio can support birdseed plants. Larger gardens can feed larger flocks, and may even yield enough seeds so some can be saved for winter bird feeding.
- Design: A birdseed garden can be any shape, from a simple planter to fence edging or a separate bed. Planting in tiers will expose more plants for birds to feed easily, with taller plants at the center or back edges of the planting area.
- Diversity: A diverse garden will attract more birds that prefer different foods. Choose plants with different bloom and seeding times, including early and late varieties, to extend the growing season and feed birds as long as possible.
- Fertilizing: Opt for organic fertilizers to nourish plants in a birdseed garden, such as compost or seasoned manure. A thick layer of mulch can also protect birdseed plants.
- Watering: Adequate watering is necessary not only to keep plants healthy but also to ensure a bumper crop of bird food. Choosing plants with similar watering needs will help conserve water and make watering simpler.
- Pest Control: Instead of applying chemical pesticides to a birdseed garden, let hungry birds munch on insects for delicious protein. Hand picking the more bothersome insects is a safe way to protect the garden without risking chemical contamination.
- Pruning: A birdseed garden doesn’t need perfect pruning to feed birds, and a messier garden will look more natural and appealing to birds. However, do deadhead flowers as needed to encourage more blooms that will make more seeds.
Which Flowers and Plants Should I Plant For Birds?
There are many delicious plants that birds will enjoy in your garden. When choosing plants, consider the types of birds already visiting your feeders, as well as which birds you hope to attract. Pick plants that will be most attractive to those species, as well as plants that will thrive in your soil conditions and sunlight levels.
The most popular seed-bearing flowers that finches, buntings, sparrows, quail, and doves enjoy include:
- Black-eyed Susan
- Blanket flower
- Globe thistle
When planting for birds, however, it is important to look beyond just seed-bearing blooms. Many birds enjoy fruit, including tree fruits as well as berries. Adding these plants to your birdseed garden will attract thrushes, waxwings, vireos, and other fruit-loving birds.
Grains & Grasses
Grains and grasses are other seed-bearing plants that can add stunning accents to a birdseed garden, even without decorative blooms. Sparrows, quail, turkeys, towhees, and finches will all enjoy grasses and grains such as:
- Feather reed grass
- Foxtail millet
- Pearl millet
- Sea oats
Of course, nectar-loving hummingbirds aren’t interested in seeds, grain, or berries, but they will love tubular flowers filled with nectar. Adding a few nectar-rich flowers as bright accents to a birdseed garden will make the plot even prettier and attract more birds besides. Top flowers for hummingbirds include:
- Bee balm
- Cardinal flower
- Red-hot poker
Ultimately, choose which flowers will work best in your landscape and attract the birds you most want to feed. By choosing flowers that will sprout seeds, fruit, grain, and nectar to feed birds, you’ll give your feathered guests a delicious meal without needing to refill and clean feeders or buy birdseed. Simply watch your garden grow, and watch all the hungry birds that enjoy the natural feast it provides.
Birds and native plants are made for each other, thanks to millions of years of evolution. Large, colorful fruits feed birds and, in return, birds spread the plant’s seeds far and wide, supporting whole ecosystems. Native plants are also important hosts for protein-rich native insects like butterfly and moth caterpillars, which nesting birds need to feed their growing chicks. For their part, birds have shaped their entire life cycles, including their migrations and feeding habits, around plant communities and the seasonal fruits and insects they serve up.
These bird-plant relationships are often so intertwined that gardeners can attract specific avians to their yards by cultivating the right plants. To help you out, we’ve selected the native plants that common backyard birds depend on, so you can support them in your yard. For more information, check out our handy native plants database to find the best species for birds in your area. And if you’re not sure what species is visiting your native plants, download our free Audubon bird guide to find out.
White-crowned Sparrow on a willow. Photo: Ryan Rubino/Audubon Photography Awards
Birds: Dark-eyed Junco, White-throated Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Lark Sparrow
Attract Them With: Blackberries (Rubus sp.) and wild grasses (Andropogon, Bouteloua, Panicum, and Sorghastrum spp.)
This one is a no-brainer: Sparrows love thickets and tall grass, so plant patches of blackberry thicket and wild grasses to attract them. Blackberries and wild grasses offer fruits and seeds as food, and they also provide nesting habitat, shelter from harsh weather, and foraging grounds where sparrows, along with other birds like warblers and chickadees, can hunt for insects. Willows, sagebrush, and other dense or shrub-like native plants are also good for attracting these birds.
Cardinals, Grosbeaks, and Tanagers
Blue Grosbeak in serviceberry. Photo: Dave Maslowski
Birds: Northern Cardinal, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Black-headed Grosbeak, Blue Grosbeak, Scarlet Tanager, Western Tanager
Attract Them With: Sunflowers (Helianthus sp.), elderberries (Sambucus sp.), and serviceberries (Amelanchier sp.)
There are few pleasures greater than watching birds pluck nutrient-rich seeds from the center of enormous yellow sunflowers. Sunflowers attract a wide variety of bird species, and so are practically bird feeders that you can grow in your yard.
Less widely known are elderberries and serviceberries. Highly nutritious fruits prized by cardinals, grosbeaks, and tanagers drip from the branches of these small trees (or large shrubs, depending on their size). Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, for instance, depend heavily on these native berries during fall migration; 95 percent of their diets are fruit during this time. Additionally, elderberry flowers attract insects, which in turn attract even more birds in spring. Many varieties of sunflowers, elderberries, and serviceberries are edible for humans, too—if you can beat the birds to them.
Crows and Jays
Florida Scrub-Jay eating an acorn. Photo: Sean Hollowell/Audubon Photography Awards
Birds: American Crow, Fish Crow, Northwestern Crow, Blue Jay, California Scrub-Jay, Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay, Florida Scrub-Jay
Attract Them With: Oaks (Quercus sp.) and beeches (Fagus sp.)
Throughout the year, these intelligent and wary birds consume a wide variety of animals and plants. But in the fall and winter months, they often depend on mast crops of oak acorns and beechnuts. In addition to their seedier offerings, oaks play host to caterpillars of over 530 species of moths and butterflies. Caterpillars are a crucial food for nestling songbirds in the spring, and so these trees draw migrating warblers, tanagers, grosbeaks, and orioles, as well as crows and jays.
Downy Woodpecker on a pine. Photo: Nick Shearman/Audubon Photography Awards
Birds: Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, White-headed Woodpecker, Northern Flicker
Attract Them With: Pines (Pinus sp.), hickories (Carya sp.), oaks (Quercus sp.), and cherries (Prunus sp.)
Woodpeckers may already visit your suet feeders in the winter. But during most of the year, common backyard species like Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers prefer insects and other invertebrates to seeds. Pine, hickory, oak, and cherry trees attract loads of tasty insects during summer, and in the winter they extend your feeders’ reach with pine seeds, hickory nuts, acorns, and cherries. Some woodpeckers may even choose to stick around for a while: They hammer cavities into the sides of larger trees to nest during breeding season. Many other bird species take shelter in these nest cavities during the off-season, too.
Chickadees and Titmice
Black-capped Chickadee on a staghorn sumac. Photo: Missy Mandel/Great Backyard Bird Count
Birds: Black-capped Chickadee, Carolina Chickadee, Mountain Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Juniper Titmouse, Oak Titmouse
Attract Them With: Birches (Betula sp.) and sumacs (Rhus sp.)
You wouldn’t know it from their frequency at birdfeeders, but chickadees and titmice mostly eat insects. Caterpillars are an especially important food, and, like oaks, birch trees host hundreds of different caterpillar species. (They also serve up birch seeds, which are popular with chickadees, titmice, and other songbirds.) As secondary cavity nesters, these species nest and shelter in existing holes in trees, as birches are an enticing substrate for birds that drill cavities.
If you lack the space or time to grow a birch, sumac is a great alternative: It grows quickly, and thrives in recently disturbed areas. Its red winter berries are especially beautiful when held in the beaks of chickadees, titmice, and other birds that need this source of scarce winter food to survive.
American Goldfinch on blazing star. Photo: Dave Maslowski
Birds: House Finch, Purple Finch, Cassin’s Finch, American Goldfinch, Lesser Goldfinch, Pine Siskin
Attract Them With: Composite flowers (Asteraceae family), spruces (Abies sp.), hemlocks (Tsuga sp.), and pines (Pinus sp.)
It’s fitting that colorful finches are attracted to the colorful flowers in the daisy (Asteraceae) family. Daisies, which include sunflowers, thistles, and asters, produce the small seeds favored by finches, and also the downy fibers used to line nests.
The seeds of conifers, such as spruce, hemlock, and pines, are also important food sources for finches. The trees provide shelter during winter, and needles for nest-building in the summer.
Many people feed deer in winter. Whether winter feeding improves deer nutrition and survival depends on which types and amounts of supplemental feed are used, as well as where and how deer are fed.
If you choose to feed deer in winter, start feeding them early, introduce foods gradually, don’t change feeds abruptly, and stick with the program until spring green-up.
White-tailed deer are selective feeders. They normally pick only the most nutrient-packed, easily digestable plant parts available and cannot efficiently digest grass hay. When forced to do so, they will die. Avoid feeding hay to whitetails during winter. It may be lethal to them.
During winter, deer need a lot of calories to keep warm and also need protein to keep their bodies functioning. Winter diets also need a certain amount of indigestible fiber to aid digestion.
As with all animals, deer need a daily supply of vitamins, minerals and water to maintain health. When providing supplemental deer foods, it is best to offer foods that will meet all or most of their daily nutritional needs.
Many people put out vegetable trimmings discarded by supermarkets. Comprising of celery, cabbage, lettuce trimmings, old fruit, or other waste, these foods are deer killers if deer have to rely solely on them for their survival. People lose weight by eating salads, and so do deer.
Veggie trimmings are high in water content and low in carbs and protein. Please, leave them in the supermarket dumpster. Waste apples and potatoes are palatable to deer and contain ample calories, but are not a healthy stand-alone diet. Fruits and spuds are high in water and too low in protein and fiber for wintering deer. If deer cannot access high quality natural forages around your feeder, they will not thrive.
As a winter supplement, cracked corn, oats, or barley are an improvement over veggies and fruit, but single diets of grains are not optimal. They may contain adequate amounts of carbs and most proteins, but lack fiber and some minerals. Deer will readily eat sunflower seeds, but do not be tempted to put out large amounts for deer. Besides the expense to you, sunflower hulls are lethal for deer when ingested in quantity. There is a chemical compound in the hull that kills the microbes in a deer’s paunch, leading to the deer’s demise.
So what’s left? Major agricultural feed stores in Maine market nutritionally balanced feeds formulated especially for deer. These feeds contain the right amount of calories, protein, minerals, and fiber to serve as a sole diet for white-tailed deer during winter. They can be purchased in bulk, or by the bag. As a stand-alone diet, deer need about 2 to 3 pounds of this feed per day.
If you make the commitment to feed deer, feed them twice daily. Put out all the deer can eat — and then some. Remember, you may start out feeding two or three deer initially, but others usually arrive as time goes on. Increase their feed as needed to ensure that all deer are getting enough.
Deer are very competitive around feeding areas, with dominant or stronger deer pushing aside smaller deer. Again, put out enough feed for all to get their fill. Spread it out in many small piles to minimize fighting and try to keep feeds dry.
Deer fed by people spend only an hour or two each day eating. If you feed deer, expect your prized shrubbery and trees to be heavily damaged by browsing. Your neighbors may also experience severe plant damage as well.
Deer collisions with motor vehicles are all too common near deer feeding sites. Where possible, locate deer feeding sites at least a quarter mile from roads, preferably in habitat that deer naturally use during winter.
Free-ranging dogs can be a problem at feeding sites near residential areas. Almost any breed of dog will chase deer, often with fatal results for the deer. Please, keep dogs controlled as is required by Maine law. Coyotes can also be a problem in deer-feeding areas.
For more information on deer-feeding issues, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has produced a brochure on the subject at mefishwildlife.com or by calling 287-8000. In addition, DIF&W and the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine are co-producing a DVD all about winter feeding of deer.
Agway and Nutrena sites participate in deer-feeding educational program
These Maine-based businesses carry nutritional deer feed and participate in the deer-feeding educational program sponsored by the Maine Deer Management Network:
• Andy’s Agway, Dayton
• Bob’s Home & Garden, Dover-Foxcroft
• Brooks Feed and Farm, Brunswick
• Campbell’s Agway True Value, Farmingdale, Skowhegan, and Winslow
• Enterprise Farms Inc., Richmond
• Down East Coal & Stove, Gouldsboro
• Foxcroft Agway, Dover-Foxcroft
• Hayloft Farm Supply, South Berwick
• Lucerne Farms/Feed Depot, Fort Fairfield
• Lyman’s Farmstore, Fairfield
• Mac’s True Value, Unity
• Maine Potato Growers Inc., Presque Isle
• Union Agway, Union
• Wentworth Family Grocery, Brooks and Brunswick
- Clumps: Birdseed that has gotten wet or otherwise spoiled may start to form stiff, firm clumps. Clumps that break apart with barely any effort are nothing to be concerned about, but stronger clumps that must be forced apart can indicate spoiled seed. Clumps may also clog feeder ports, which can cause more seed to spoil as it stays inaccessible and uneaten.
- Insects: Insects such as moths, worms, spiders and earwigs can infest birdseed. Look for live or dead insects, cocoons, webs and other indications of insect activity. One or two bugs will not be a problem, but several bugs or a larger swarm means the seed is spoiled and should be discarded.
- Mold: Mold and mildew can be fatal to birds, and moldy seed can show mold or fungus growth, discoloration or a musty smell. The seed may be softer than it ought to be or could have a slimy feel that indicates the presence of mold spores.
- Sprouts: Many types of birdseed will germinate under the right circumstances. Seeds that are swollen, split or actively growing shoots or roots are spoiled. Birds will not eat these growing seeds, but in a bird-friendly garden are the sprouts can be left to mature and ripen into more supplies of birdseed. Birds will even help themselves from the plants once the seeds have ripened.
- Smell: Bad seed can sometimes be detected by a simple smell. Many seeds have high oil contents, and when that oil goes bad it will generate a sharp, rancid smell. Moldy and musty odors also indicate spoiled birdseed.
- Rodents: An infestation of rodents – mice, rats, etc. – can spoil seed through contaminants such as urine or feces. Checking for chewed containers, rodent tracks or visible feces can indicate contaminated seed as well as unwanted rodent populations.
- Aging: Very old birdseed loses its nutritional value. While it may not show blatant signs of being spoiled, the seed that is dull, dusty or dried out is less healthy for the birds and should be discarded if possible.
- Feces: Many different wild bird diseases are spread through contaminated feces, and when bird feeders are dirty and caked with excrement, the birdseed can be infected. Birders should thoroughly clean feeders and remove any feces buildup each time feeders are refilled, or that contamination can easily spread to spoil more seed.
Who Wants to Kill Birds?
Nuthatch enjoying breakfast. Could it be his last? Photo by Ralph Anderson.
Grumpy loves birds. He fills his feeder twice a day. So imagine his shock when he learned that Scott’s Miracle-Gro admitted to selling bird seed tainted with pesticides. Was Scott’s, the maker of a slew of popular lawn and garden products, in league with the devil? To find out, Grumpy paid the company a visit last week at their corporate headquarters in Marysville, Ohio.
Here’s the Poop A few years back, Scott’s decided to diversify its business by selling its own line of bird seed. It bought a bird seed company that had been in the business for years without incident and starting marketing its product under the Scott’s name. Unfortunately, Scott’s neglected to “look under the hood” and thoroughly investigate the product it had acquired. And that’s what got them into big trouble with the Feds and even bigger trouble with the small, but very shrill, Scott’s-hating crowd.
Toxic Seed See, the seed company they bought didn’t want bird seed in storage to be ravaged by insects. (Leave an open box of oatmeal in your pantry for a year and see what crawls out.) So they’d been treating it with two insecticides to prevent this. Problem is, the insecticides were toxic to birds. Stupid, huh? Yep.
Some Scott’s employees discovered this around 2008 and notified middle management. For some reason (probably fear of retaining their jobs), the middle management people delayed telling upper management about this for months. When upper management finally got wind of the truth, they immediately recalled all the tainted seed and notified EPA of the problem. Oh yeah, and they fired the middle managers who hadn’t spoken up right away.
EPA Lowers the Boom The Environmental Protection Agency, not known as a laugh-a-minute crowd, was not amused. After assessing the situation, it fined Scott’s $4 million for not doing its due diligence. Scott’s paid up, removed the offending pesticides from the bird seed, and now sells seed that officially passes muster.
Are the Scott’s Haters Happy Now? Of course not. They won’t be happy as long as Scott’s remains in business. You don’t have to search far in the blogosphere to find dozens of crazed, lathered-up posts with titles like “Scott’s Bird Seed Kills Birds” and “Scott’s Miracle-Gro — the bird-killing company.” So what exactly befell the bird population while Scott’s was selling the tainted seed?
As far as anybody can tell, pretty much nothing. Grumpy’s meeting with Scott’s included TV, radio, blog, and print media from all over the country. I posed this question to the group: “Have any of you witnessed or heard of any large bird kills in your area traced to tainted bird seed?”
No hands went up. The EPA has no evidence of any incidents either. Granted, Scott’s only controlled about 10% of the bird seed market at the time, but the truth remains — far more birds die from flying into living room windows every year than ever succumbed to toxic bird seed.
Full Disclosure Scott’s paid my airfare and lodging for my visit. The Scott’s haters will immediately conclude that Grumpy was bought. Not so. I only agreed to hear Scott’s side of the story with no promise that I would report on it positively, negatively, or at all. Lots of companies in the garden industry send me stuff. If I try a product out and conclude that it’s good for my audience, I recommend it. If I don’t, you never hear about it.
In conclusion, Grumpy bets that Scott’s will much more thoroughly investigate companies it acquires in the future. In the meantime, I will continue to feed my birdies twice a day — using Scott’s, Pennington’s, or Cole’s bird seed — with a clear conscience. Chirp!
Thistle: Don’t Blame the Bird Seed
Bird watchers put out thistle for Goldfinches, Pine Siskins, and others. The small black seed is packed with the protein and fat the little birds need. When thistle starts sprouting in their yards, some determine to never use this feed again.
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When I started feeding thistle to the birds, I heard somewhere that it will not germinate. I felt safe that I was not adding any more of the invasive plant to our environment.
A month ago, a friend gave me an opened bag of thistle, saying she got it from someone who started feeding this to the birds, but noticed thistle sprouting around her place where she had none before. This friend did not want to risk having any in her yard, so was passing it on to me. Now I hear others saying they have stopped feeding thistle to the birds for that reason. This aroused my curiosity: Maybe I’ve been wrong all this time.
Here is what I learned after searching:
1. It is not a thistle at all, but rather Niger Plant (Guizotia abyssinica). It is believed “thistle” was used in early marketing to take advantage of the Goldfinches’ preference for thistle seeds. The plant has no prickles and it is related to sunflowers. The Wild Bird Feeding Industry has trademarked the name Nyjer in an attempt to eliminate further confusion and avoid possible mispronunciation.
2. This seed should not germinate here. As of 1982, the USDA required the imported seed to be sterilized through a heat-treatment process. In 2001, they increased the temperature because the original requirement didn’t quite do the job. Some known invasives would get into the Nyjer and grow here.
3. Cultivars have been developed in the US for agricultural production, and this is not considered to be a Federal noxious weed.
If you find thistles growing in your yard, it might be from seed blowing in from a nearby location. Continue to fill your socks and finch feeders with this seed and enjoy the birds!
For interest’s sake, I found some Canada Thistle seed and placed it alongside Nyjer.
Birds pictured: One Pine Siskin and two American Goldfinches, a heap of Common Redpolls (We fed about 70 of these birds for a month in 2013. They ate anything, but by far, they preferred Nyjer. )
Wild Bird Seed Mixes – Problems With Bird Seeds In The Garden
There are few sights as charming as a flock of tiny spritely songbirds, chattering jays and other varieties of our feathered friends. Feeding birds encourages them to stay within visual contact, but there are bird seed types that may affect your prized plants. Use caution when purchasing wild bird seed to avoid excess waste, allelopathic effects and unwanted pests. A little knowledge will help prevent problems with bird seeds and ensure a trouble free ornithologist experience.
Bird Feeder Problems
Bird watching is a time honored tradition and puts the gardener more in touch with nature and its denizens. Erecting bird feeders enhances the garden and persuades different species of Aves to make your landscape their home. Unfortunately, birds are not the tidiest of eaters and even a catch tray under the feeder is often not effective to prevent the spread of debris. Purchase hull free food without sunflower seeds to minimize the damage.
Many of us who have fed the birds may have noticed some ill effects to the plants below the feeders.
- Birds defecate onto plants, coating the leaves which can kill or diminish the health of the foliage.
- The waste from discarded hulls and food thrown around, encourage mold and unwanted pests.
- Weeds may spring up, as the seed in wild bird food is often still viable.
Other problems with bird seeds include an allelopathic effect found in sunflowers. Sunflower seed toxins can negatively affect other plants by the release of a chemical that repels competitive vegetation. Much of the toxin is in the shell itself, so purchasing seeds with just the kernels can minimize sunflower seed toxins and their damage.
Avoiding Problems with Bird Seeds
One of the most common bird feeder problems is from the waste the birds generate as they eat. Providing bird seed types that have no waste, such as shells or hulls, prevents molding debris and general mess. The entire portion of the seed is edible and will get eaten by either the birds or other animals who like seeds – such as rodents, raccoons, deer and even bears.
This brings us to another issue, pests. There are repellents to try a reduce pest activity, or you can rake up any debris and dispose of it. Limiting the amount of refuse below the feeder is crucial to avoiding pest problems. Use a feeder with a broad tray that catches the bulk of the discarded seed.
An obvious solution is to move the feeders to a location where there are no other plants below and a site that is easy to clean up after messy birds feed. A bare site under the feeder will give birds a chance to have a dirt bath, a site that is entertaining to the eye and necessary for many varieties of birds. You might consider spreading a tarp below to catch seed and make disposal easier.
If all else fails, install shorter varieties of sunflower below the feeder. They are immune to their own alleopathy and will grow and provide habitat and cover for birds. As an added bonus, the season end mature heads provide free food for your feathered friends.
- Comparing the seed’s price versus its content, because if there are seeds or fillers your birds won’t eat in a birdseed mix, a cheap price may not be that great of a deal.
- Shopping around at multiple retailers and investigating different prices for different quantities of seed to stock up at the best price.
- Using sales to stock up on popular seeds that many birds eat, since birdseed that is stored properly can last for months.
- Asking about loyalty programs that provide discounts, free delivery, special orders, or other benefits to make buying birdseed less of a chore.
- Combining purchases with other local birders to extend bulk buying power and buy larger quantities, so you both can save by splitting a single purchase.
- Opting to buy less birdseed but taking steps to grow seed, such as black oil sunflower seeds. Homegrown seed is just as attractive to birds, but far less expensive than multiple purchases.
- Recycling birdseed by using tiered feeders or ground-feeding stations beneath hanging feeders so none of the seed goes to waste.
- Having several backup places to buy birdseed when your stocks run low, so you don’t risk feeders staying empty for prolonged periods of time.
- Supplementing purchased seed with natural food sources such as fruit trees for birds or seed-bearing flowers to produce seed that never needs to be purchased.
- Offering safe, suitable kitchen scraps as rare treats at bird feeders to supplement seed supplies and extend the bird feeding budget.