Invite A Friend

     Everyone has a favorite backyard bird. Many choose the Cardinal for its brilliant red feathers and cheery song. For others, a Chickadee brightens each day. Gregarious Goldfinches also win many votes. My vote goes to the dapper White-breasted Nuthatch. This little dynamo affirms my place in the world - while most bird traffic on a tree trunk goes up, there will always be room for one who goes against the grain!
     Each species we invite to our backyards is a masterpiece, splendid in evolutionary design and physical beauty. Even the birds we dislike because of their destructive or over-consumptive behaviors can be admired for their stunning feathers, incredible intelligence or lovely song. How wonderful that we can enjoy such a diverse assortment of feathered creatures so close to our homes!
     Attracting your favorite birds is easy once you understand more about each species. Cardinals have different habitat requirements than Red-bellied Woodpeckers. These two birds are about the same size, fairly common to our area and easy to attract. They both require trees in their environment but they use them in different ways. While the Cardinal forages for insects and and berries closer to the ground, the woodpecker finds most of its meals high up on the trunks and branches of older trees. This is just one example of the feeding niches birds have developed to help them survive. Providing feeders in a variety of feeding niches will increase the number of bird species you see coming to your yard.
     When I began feeding birds I started like most everyone does, I hung a small wooden feeder from the branch of a tree. I filled it with a sunflower mix and waited. The Chickadees found the seed first, and then the House Finches. I waited for months. Occasionally I saw a Downey Woodpecker land on the feeder. After choosing a sunflower seed he flew away, never staying for very long. I wanted Cardinals, Grosbeaks, and Goldfinches. I had seen Nuthatches, Orioles and Brown Thrashers in my neighborhood but never at my feeder.
     I decided to get a second feeder, a fly-thru. The fly-thru is an excellent general purpose feeder that accommodates the feeding styles of many different birds. Built of cedar, it has a removable tray lined with fine screen and a large overhanging roof. I mounted my new feeder on a 6’ pole and it didn’t take long for the word to get out that dinner was served! As usual, the Chickadees were the first on the scene. Other birds followed their lead including Nuthatches and Goldfinch! It took about two weeks but a pair of Cardinals I had seen in the area finally stopped in for a visit. The fly-thru was a success! The wide open tray provided the room and support that Cardinals prefer. The small wood feeder I had first hung was just too small and precarious for them. No wonder these beautiful birds are very cautious, foraging in the thick underbrush and on the ground near cover. The male’s bold color makes him an easy target for predators like hawks and cats so they have good reason to be careful!
     When trying to attract your favorite birds, keep their feeding niches in mind. Hanging tube feeders for Finches and Chickadees. Tree mounted suet and peanut feeders for Woodpeckers and Nuthatches. Ground feeding trays for native sparrows and Mourning Doves. Fly-thru and large hopper feeders for Cardinals and Grosbeaks. Group several feeders in one area to create a feeding station that is convenient to maintain. A good bird feeding plan will include several of these feeding stations in different parts of the yard. Providing multiple stations reduces competition for seating and allows you to enjoy the birds from different rooms in your home. Each yard is unique, if you have questions about attracting more birds just ask me!
I am the Wild Bird Lady, and I’m out there...

Wild About Birds
Published by MN DNR
Carrol Henderson