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Pet Care

What You Should Know About Bird Food

Bird food is a vital part of maintaining a healthy wildlife population. The right bird foods will help attract birds to your backyard and provide them with the nutrients they need for life.

Choose a blend that features black oil sunflower seeds, which are the most attractive to a wide range of birds. Seed mixes with millet, cracked corn, and wheat are less popular but appeal to a few species of ground-feeding birds.

Kitchen Scraps

During winter when fruit and insects are scarce, birds may welcome kitchen scraps and pantry grains as an alternative source of food. These items provide essential fats and carbohydrates to help keep the birds’ body warm and healthy.

Some types of kitchen scraps, such as stale bread and cake, are safe to offer to backyard birds in small amounts. However, too much can bloat the bird’s stomach and thereby cause it to become nutrient deficient.

Other foods, such as oats, are also safe to put out for the birds in small amounts. But, it is important to remember that oats and cereal should only be offered dry, without being soaked in milk.

Seeds

There are many different types of seeds that can be used to make bird food. Black oil sunflower seed, safflower, and nyjer seed are all popular options.

Safflower, a thistle-like plant, has white seeds that are popular with doves and cardinals. They are not as popular with other birds because of their bitter flavor.

Nuts: Chickadees, finches, titmice and woodpeckers can enjoy peanut pieces or other nuts as part of their diet. They will appreciate it more if you serve them on a platform feeder rather than placing them directly on the ground, as shelled nuts can get stuck in their feet.

Milo, also called sorghum, is another common type of bird seed. It is a filler in most commercial bird mixes, but it doesn’t attract much interest from most birds.

Fruits

Fruits are an excellent addition to a bird’s diet. They’re an easy way to attract birds to your feeders and they’re also a great source of vitamin A, C, calcium, iron, potassium, fiber, magnesium and manganese.

Some of the most popular fruits for feeding to birds include apples, pears and berries. These can either be grated or cut in half and hung out so that birds can peck at the soft flesh, but be sure to rinse them well before feeding.

Dried fruits such as sultanas and currants are also good for birds to snack on. These need to be soaked overnight before they can be fed to them, and then they need to be finely chopped so that they don’t swell inside their tiny stomachs.

Meat

In the winter, birds often need extra calories to stay warm. Suet is a popular source of this energy. It’s a delicious treat that can be made from leftover fats from beef or pork dishes.

Peanut butter is also a nutritious food that’s a favorite of many backyard bird species. Cold weather is the best time to offer it, but be careful not to keep it outside for too long in warmer weather as it may become melted or rancid.

Stale bread crusts, donuts, cakes and crackers are also appealing to birds. Be sure to break them up into small pieces and soak any stale ones in water before offering them to the birds.

Water

Water is one of the most abundant, essential and widely available compounds on Earth. It covers about 71% of the planet’s surface, in liquid and ice forms.

Birds use a variety of natural sources of water, such as rivers and lakes, to drink. They also find ways to bathe and keep their plumage clean.

A bird bath is a great way to provide birds with fresh water on your property. But, be sure to wash the bath regularly to avoid contaminating it with bacteria or disease that can harm visiting birds.

Homemade hummingbird nectar is easy to make and healthy for hummingbirds. A ratio of four parts sugar to one part water is ideal for hummingbirds and best replicates the nectar found in natural flowers that attract hummingbirds.

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