I think lately I’ve become a little bird obsessed, but I can’t help it. My eyes have somehow been opened to how awesome birds are, and now I just can’t get enough.
One of the best things about birds is that, unlike some animals, they aren’t hidden away in the wilderness — many of them are right in our backyards.
Lately with this wonderful weather, I’ve been sitting outside on my porch and watching the birds (mostly robins and starlings) visit our yard in search of worms. Robins and Starlings were fun to watch, but I also wanted to see other species who don’t dig around for invertebrates.
One day, after we had talked about wanting to get feeders and attract more birds, my husband surprised me by getting two feeders and installing them on the outside of our bedroom window.
I was excited to see what new birds we would attract, but after a couple weeks none had shown up. We talked with a family member who is a gardening expert and she suggested planting a couple bushes nearby for birds to perch in because they like to have cover near their food.
We’re currently in the process of getting a pair of bushes that grow berries birds like to eat in order to attract birds to our feeders, but to my surprise, a few birds have finally shown up even before we found them any cover.
The first time a bird showed up on a feeder, I was walking into the bedroom and stopped dead in my tracks. I was extremely surprised and even more excited. The same bird, a little brown and white fellow, came back three times that day.
Since then, a few more birds have started showing up from time to time, including a bright red cardinal. The cardinal doesn’t like to eat from the feeders — he prefers finding seeds on the window ledge that other birds have knocked down from the feeders.
From what I’ve been able to learn, it seems cardinals prefer to eat from trays or “hopper feeders” that look like bird houses. Our cardinal buddy has taken to showing up on our ledge every morning and chirping while he eats, like a little alarm clock.
I’ve also been teaching myself about what kinds of seeds attract different birds. Cardinals, for example, prefer sunflower seeds.
Here are some tips for filling your feeders in the most bird-friendly ways:
- Black oil sunflower seeds have a thinner shell that’s easier for birds to crack open, so it seems to me they’re the preferable type.
- Don’t keep more than 2-3 days’ worth of seeds in a tube feeder because moisture can build up and cause the seeds to spoil.
- Many different kinds of birds enjoyed eating cracked corn, including ducks, pheasants, cardinals, grosbeaks, crows and ravens. However, deer, raccoons and other animals also like it, so be careful about what you’re attracting into your yard if you use corn.
- If you do opt to attract birds with corn, never use corn intended for planting, because it’s often been treated with fungicides. Such corn is marked with red dye so you can tell for sure. Also, never buy corn in a plastic bag or put out corn on rainy or humid days. Moisture will cause the corn to spoil faster.
After we finish acquiring our bushes, I plan on getting a bird bath next. If you have any tips on bird baths, or any other tips about attracting and watching birds, let me know and I might share it in a future column.
Amanda’s Animal Fact of the Week
Red-footed boobies may dive up to 98 feet underwater in pursuit of their prey.
Amanda Wheeler is a Danville resident who has worked as an educator at the Cincinnati Zoo. She is currently pursuing her master’s in zoology. Her email address is email@example.com.