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Birdseed

I live in the southeast. I have bought premium birdseed and some cheap stuff.

The best results have come from using a cheap grocery store brand and mixing it with more sunflower seeds.

Buying the cheap stuff and a separate bag of sunflowers has really increased traffic and variety by changing the ratio of sunflower seeds.

Any suggestions on adding other ingredients?

I was thinking nyjer seeds but I thought I would check this sub forum before dropping any more money.

I am pretty tired of seeing cardinals and enjoy seeing other colorful birds like finches and some other unknown varieties.
 
I'm also in the southeast and my wife likes putting out bird feeders. She has two feeders. One she just puts in shelled sunflower seeds (attracts cardinals, finches, and a bunch of others) and the other has meal worms (so she can attract blue birds to the backyard). Between the two bird feeders we get a great mix of birds in our yard.
 
The stuff you buy in a grocery store is cheap feed and not particularly nutritious for wild birds. Black oil sunflower seed is a very good, basic start. How much do you want to spend?

I'm kind of a fanatic about feeding birds, and while I wouldn't say I'm spending an inordinate amount of money on the hobby, some people might think I'm going over the top. The basic staple at my feeders is Kaytee's fruit and nut mix, it has nuts of all kinds, raisins, dried raspberry seeds, dates, and sunflower seeds in shells and kernels. I also have a small feeder that holds sunflower pieces and hearts. Another good one to add is a feeder for shelled peanuts, or if you can find them, C&S make suet nuggets. These are made with rendered beef tallow with peanuts and oats added to the mix. They form them into little nuggets that prove popular with all the birds in my yard. Actual suet only gets set out in the colder months, because the fat can melt and draw flies. Also, there is some evidence that the grease from melted suet can harm birds' plumage (feathers falling out, etc.). Nyger seed is provided by a mesh tube sack that I buy as a whole unit. They eat it down to nothing, and then I get another one.

Birds will keep coming back to a good restaurant! It pays to put some effort into providing good food. Unfortunately, that can mean higher costs, and you'll have to decide if it's worth it. Unwanted pests ("garbage" birds, squirrels, chipmunks, opossums, and raccoons) sometimes come with your new hobby, too.

Again, check out Kaytee as a bird food manufacturer. Menards usually carries the whole line.

Don
 

Ad Astra

The Instigator
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I enjoy seeing the woodpeckers, but not the rats.

Sticking to feeding the hummingbirds, in season. Some suet-cakes in winter.


AA
 
You can always add some corn, cracked or whole to the mix. I live in the Midwest and I mix equal parts mixed seed, whole black oil sunflower seed, & whole corn kernels and it seems to make a big difference in the amount of birds that we get.
 
With random cheap mixed blends birds look to scatter the seed they don't want and dig for the gold. Lots of sprouting weeds to be had under the feeders. What falls from a black oil seed feeder gets cleaned up pretty thoroughly by ground feeding birds, birds too big to land on the feeder and the squirrels and chipmunks.

Millet is another seed that has been useful for me in the past for attracting the various finches. much less expensive than Nyger.
dave
 
Black Oiled Sunflower.. I get a 50# at the local farm store around $25+/-.

I also have a couple of hummingbird feeders that a lots of traffic.

Corn around here attracts squirrels, blackbirds and cow birds.
 
Now that it's getting a bit on the chilly side, I decided to hang up a silo feeder again. I had taken it down at the beginning of summer because of the Trichomonas parasite thing.
I loaded it up with Black Oil Sunflower seeds yesterday, and within 24 hours it was all gone. I mostly got American Goldfinches and some Chickadees.
Later on in the season I'll hang a Nyjer seed feeder too, for the Pine Siskins and other smaller birds.
Those are the only two seed I put out. I read that most wild bird seed blends have a lot of empty calorie fillers, like corn and millet. It's their junk food.
Lots of sprouting weeds to be had under the feeders. What falls from a black oil seed feeder gets cleaned up pretty thoroughly by ground feeding birds, birds too big to land on the feeder and the squirrels and chipmunks.
I get Mourning Doves and Ring-necked Pheasants pecking away under my feeders and I have to keep moving the pole around because they chew up the lawn. Some of the pheasants are the melanistic type, with blue-green backs and purple breast feathers, but lacking a white neck ring. It's nice having the variety.

Last year though, I didn't mow some of the weeds, because they were Black Oil Sunflowers. About 5 of them survived and had flowers big enough for birds to go for them in the fall.

Part of my "feeding station" is a dead Flowering Crab tree that had succumbed to parasites a few years ago. Instead of cutting it up and throwing it away I hang it upside-down from another wrought-iron hanging pole near the feeders.
That has two functions:
1. It's awaiting room for when all the feeder perches are occupied.
2. Chickadees like to carry a sunflower seed over to a branch where they can grasp it between one claw and the branch, then peck away at the shell with their beak. Apparently the feeder perches aren't perfect for the job.
From wikimedia:
 
Cardinals like safflower seeds. In my large feeder I use the cheap country mix sold at Menards in 40# bags. I mix in some added sunflower and safflower seeds. I have 2 tube feeders with a fruit and nut mix in them which is popular with a lot of different birds. I also have a little cage I put a woodpecker suit cake in and a small mesh/screen nyger seed feeder which attracts finches and chickadees. I might be overdoing it with all that stuff year round but I really enjoy watching the birds come around. What's weird is that during the winter I put out a bird bath with a heater in it so the water would stay melted. I thought the birds would really dig it but they almost totally ignored it. I don't think I saw more than a handful use it during the entire winter. It was the same reaction 3 years running so I don't even bother with that anymore though I still get a lot of traffic at my feeders.
 
I bought one of these for nyjer seeds yesterday:


The yellow looks like plastic, but is actually painted metal.
Two mods I'm going to make are:
  1. Install a plastic tube inside it to take up volume (to within 1/2" of the mesh), allowing me to fill it to the top with less seed (because it doesn't get consumed all that quickly), and maybe it will stay a bit fresher and dryer.
  2. Fabricate a bottom to replace the tray/perch. It has drain holes, but you still end up with a lot of mushy seeds when it rains. (Or snows.)
Oh yeah - in that dead tree that I mentioned I have a solar-powered lantern hanging in it, similar to this one:

It's partly for safety when wandering around in the back yard at night.
In the daytime there is no end of amusement watching Blue Jays trying to figure out how to get food out of it. :lol:
 
Millet is another seed that has been useful for me in the past for attracting the various finches. much less expensive than Nyger.
dave
Thanks for the suggestion. I'll try millet. My finches are damn particular about their Nyger. They mob the feeder for a few days while it's fresh, then ignore it after a week. Their gourmet tastes are getting expensive for me.
 
Thanks for the suggestion. I'll try millet. My finches are damn particular about their Nyger. They mob the feeder for a few days while it's fresh, then ignore it after a week. Their gourmet tastes are getting expensive for me.

I like the sound of John's idea in the post ahead of your's, fill most of the feeder volume with a tube so only small amounts of the expensive stuff are put out at any given time. I had the same issue with nyger seed, initially swarmed then ignored.
dave
 
I wait until much cooler weather to start feeding .. I did refinish the feeder roof this summer though. I have had the same experience with thistle/njger for the finch tribe, and buy very small amounts in recent years. I did have one gal at the feed store tell me that it goes stale, quickly, and a quick Google search seems to confirm that. Even up here in Michigan it appears to go off in the winter, so I scrub the thistle feeder in the off season.
 

Ad Astra

The Instigator
Ambassador
Cardinals like safflower seeds. In my large feeder I use the cheap country mix sold at Menards in 40# bags. I mix in some added sunflower and safflower seeds. I have 2 tube feeders with a fruit and nut mix in them which is popular with a lot of different birds. I also have a little cage I put a woodpecker suit cake in and a small mesh/screen nyger seed feeder which attracts finches and chickadees. I might be overdoing it with all that stuff year round but I really enjoy watching the birds come around. What's weird is that during the winter I put out a bird bath with a heater in it so the water would stay melted. I thought the birds would really dig it but they almost totally ignored it. I don't think I saw more than a handful use it during the entire winter. It was the same reaction 3 years running so I don't even bother with that anymore though I still get a lot of traffic at my feeders.
Bump for an older thread! But I just did this; 20-pound bag of cheap seed, added safflower for my cardinals, doves and chickadees.

Glad the House-Eaters don't like safflower, feeder is anti-squirrel but some falls.

Actually, the House-Eaters tell spooky stories about my property ... :devil: where aggressive curiosity is rewarded Amelia Earhart-style.


AA
 
I put out raw peanuts still in the shell. Cardinals partake but the Blue Jays love them. We have at least 10 regulars. Possible benefit from all the Jays is that we had NO Cicadas on the property this year. Could hear them on neighboring properties but not ours. Jays must think that Cicadas are like bonus peanuts. LOL
 
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