Choosing Seed For Backyard Birds

White-Breasted Nuthatch Eating Sunflower Hearts
White-Breasted Nuthatch Eating Sunflower Hearts

When you first start feeding birds, you might think that you can just buy any birdseed mix, plop it in whatever feeder you like and a wide variety of birds will quickly come flocking. The seed bag probably has a list of all the birds that will eat the food, so all of them should show up at your feeder, right?

Well, they might if you are lucky. But it is also very possible you will wind up with a mob of birds you don’t like dominating the feeder picking through the mix and dropping seed they don’t like on the ground to go to waste. Putting the right feeder in the right location is important, but what you put into it is important too. Here are the foods I offer birds (and foods that I don’t) in my Maryland yard, followed by a list of who eats what.

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Attracting Northern Cardinals

Male Northern Cardinal in the Snow
Male Northern Cardinal in the Snow

It’s hard not to like Northern Cardinals. One of our most popular feeder birds, the male’s beautiful red color pops in the yard, especially in the dull grey winter months of the year and the female’s more subtle orange and red tones are lovely as well. They come to our feeders fairly readily and are polite guests. They might bicker with each other a little bit, especially in the spring when territory becomes an issue, but they don’t give other species a hard time. If you live within their range, attracting them to feeders usually isn’t hard to do.

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Birds & Trees: A Tree Falls in the Yard

A Large Pine Tree Falls Across the Back Yard

Each time I enter a home count in eBird, I include a note that the location is a “Suburban Wooded Back Yard.” The many mature trees in our yard are after all a part of the attraction for the birds that come here. Unfortunately over the past year or two, this description is starting to fray. Our lovely large trees keep falling in unusual numbers and each time this happens, it not only affects the yard’s human owners but also the birds and other creatures that live here. Over this past weekend another very large tree fell. This one in particular is going to have real repercussions for bird life in our back yard.

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