Wilson Post Blogs
Our Feathered Friends - November 9, 2011
Well, here we are…another week has come and gone! My grandmother use to tell me the older you get the faster time flies. She sure was correct, and the older I get the more I realize that a lot of things she tried to warn me about have come to pass. My grandmother use to feed the birds in her Illinois backyard. She now lives with my parents in Indiana and still insists on feeding them even though she can’t get out into the yard. Now she just cracks her bathroom window and pours seed on the windowsill. She loves watching the little birds rush to eat as soon as she shuts the window.
A friend mentioned I should write about bird seed/grain since fall is here and winter will quickly be upon us. Most of us want to know what is best to stock up on and fill our feeders with. I’m sure Ray has covered this before, but I’ll share with you the different types of seeds and grains for birds. Many species of birds prefer certain types of seeds, so if you want to attract a specific type of bird, put out the seed they prefer.
The most common is the black-oil sun flower seed. It has a thin shell and provides a high dose of energy. It is one of the best seeds for our feathered friends and common in many of the store mixes you buy. Another is the striped sunflower seed which has a much thicker and larger shell, and therefore not a favorite among our smaller birds. Nyjer or Thistle seed is a small black seed which has become very popular, but it can be rather expensive and needs to be put in a special “thistle” feeder with small holes so it doesn’t spill out. Safflower seed is similar to a sunflower, but whiter, rounder and smaller. It is not as well liked by most birds which prefer the sunflower seed, but it is good to use if you have a problem with Starlings, House Sparrows and squirrels because they don’t particularly care for it. Cracked corn is a very inexpensive grain that is enjoyed by many types of birds, especially ground feeders. Millet is the small round white grain that is used as filler in many commercial bird seed mixes. It is enjoyed by many of the smaller birds. And milo is a small reddish-colored round grain also used as filler in many bird mixes. However, it is not well liked by any of the birds and usually goes to waste.
A common mixture that is a favorite in our region is mixing a 25-pound bag of black-oil sunflower seed, a 10-pound bag of millet and a 10-pound bag of cracked corn (be sure it is not whole corn as this is hard for most of our little birds to crack themselves). Black-oil is the preferred seed for most of our common feeder birds such as Cardinals, Chickadees, Finches, Nuthatches, Titmice, Blue Jays and Sparrows. Millet is well liked by almost all of our smaller bird friends!! And cracked corn is a favorite among our ground feeders… particularly Doves, White-throated Sparrows, Blue Jays and Cardinals. Obviously, Niger/thistle seed will get you a variety of finches and sparrows, such as House Sparrows and Goldfinches. I’ve even seen Chickadees, Titmice, and a Downey Woodpecker hanging on my thistle feeder. Remember, if you have a problem with unwanted birds or squirrels add some Safflower seed because this will deter them but still be eaten by our “favored” birds!