Beginning Birder

Selecting the Right Feeder

  • Platform feeders can be placed close to the ground to service ground feeding birds. They can hang from trees, or be mounted on a post or window. They are a great place for larger birds to land.
  • Hopper feeders hold a large amount of food that will be protected from the weather.
  • Tube feeders attract the smaller birds and can be made for small finch mixes, Nyjer® or sunflower seeds.
  • Fly-through feeders are platforms with a roof.
  • Squirrel "resistant" feeders can be dome shaped, have collapsible perches or have baffles.
  • Suet feeders are usually cages that hold suet cakes.
  • Formed feeders such as Kaytee Bells and Cakes are ready to hang and easy to care for.
  • Care and cleaning is needed. A seasonal or monthly cleaning with hot soapy water or 1 part bleach to 9 parts water gets rid of bacteria, fungi and mold.

Safer Wild Birds and Cats

Do you own a cat? Do you know someone who owns a cat? Cats can be great companions to many different types of people. But there is one group that isn’t so fond of them, the birds!

There are more than 90 million pet cats in the U.S., the majority of which roam outside at least part of the time. In addition, millions of stray and feral cats roam our cities, suburbs, and rural areas. Experts estimate that free-roaming cats kill hundreds of millions of birds, small mammals, reptiles and amphibians each year.

Cat predation (the predation of one animal on others) is an added stress to wildlife populations already struggling to survive habitat loss, pollution, pesticides, and other human impacts (see: Domestic Cat Predation On Birds And Other Wildlife). Millions of domestic cats are euthanized each year because there are not enough homes for them.

How can you help?

In 1997, American Bird Conservancy (ABC) launched the Cats Indoors! Campaign for Safer Birds and Cats to educate cat owners, decision makers, and the general public that cats, wildlife and people all benefit when cats are kept indoors, in an outdoor enclosure, or trained to go outside on a harness and leash. ABC developed many education materials, including fact sheets, posters, the popular brochure (recently revised), Cats, Birds, and You, an Educator’s Guide for Grades K-6, print and radio Public Service Announcements (PSAs), and more.

To read more about about domestic cat predation on birds and other wildlife visit American Bird Conservancy.

If you are a beginner...

If you are just beginning to feed Song Birds, it is best to start by resisting the temptation to purchase the least expensive food and feeders available. It is advisable that you purchase a premium mix that contains a high percentage of quality seeds like Black Oil Sunflower and Millet. This high concentration of Sunflower and Millet will bring Song Birds to your backyard faster and with less waste than less costly mixes. It is also important that you choose a feeder that is designed to be used with the type of mix you are using.

When you bring home your feed and feeder, set it up initially away from the house and about six feet off the ground. It may be a good idea to throw a little feed on the ground below the feeder at first. Birds flying overhead will see the feed on the ground and will find the feeder faster. Once they find the feeder, you can begin moving it closer to your home so you can see and hear the Song Birds better. Remember; keep the feeder filled to have the birds coming consistently. Also, remember that a pretty birdfeeder often does not attract birds as well as one designed with functionality in mind. Go for function, not style.