Fall Feeding Basics
Cool weather is on the way and fall is an important time of year to keep feeders stocked to prepare our resident birds for the cold months ahead. Providing seed and suet offers birds a supplemental source of food as natural food sources begin to run low. It enables resident birds to build fat reserves needed for the cold months ahead and provides a source of energy for passing migratory birds.
Not sure what to feed? Here is a breakdown of some basic backyard bird feeding options.
- Black oil sunflower seed attracts the greatest variety of birds. It is high in fat and the shells are easy to crack for smaller birds. This is a favorite for finches, grosbeaks, chickadees, nuthatches, juncos, jays, and many others.
- Patio mix is a mixture of sunflower chips, diced peanuts, Nyjer thistle seed, and cracked corn. It is ideal for patio and deck feeders, as it contains shelled and hulled ingredients, creating less waste. This blend appeals to chickadees, finches, nuthatches, sparrows, and others.
- Peanuts are a great source of protein. Shelled peanuts can be placed in mesh tube feeders specifically designed for woodpeckers (such as Droll Yankees’ 13-inch Woodpecker Feeder, $27.99, available in the Nature Store). They are a favorite for jays, flickers, and a variety of woodpeckers.
- Nyjer Thistle, which is high in fat and protein content, is an excellent source of energy and a favorite of goldfinches. Contrary to its name, Nyjer thistle seed is not thistle but the seed of an African yellow daisy native to Ethiopia. Nyjer seed can also attract pine siskins, nuthatches, and chickadees. It is recommended to replace Nyjer seed every 2 to 3 weeks when not being eaten regularly.
- Suet is an excellent source of energy for birds year-round but especially in the winter. Packed with protein and carbohydrates, these cakes of fat can slide into a caged feeder or come in plug form that can be packed into a suet log. A favorite for birds both large and small, watch for flickers and gangs of bushtits at your suet station.
Fall is also a good time to take inventory of your feeding supplies. Sanitize your seed and suet feeders in hot soapy water and replace or repair any damaged feeders. Make sure to inspect any bags left over from summer feeding for mold, mildew, or parasite infestation.
In addition to feeding, fall is also an ideal time for planting. Take advantage of fall native plant sales (The Seward Park Audubon Center’s Fall Native Plant Sale will be held the weekend of October 14th and 15th) to build a native habitat for birds in your backyard or even in containers on a balcony or patio.
Stop by the Nature Store for more fall feeding tips and to browse a diverse selection of wild bird feeding options and bird supplies.