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new to birds?

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I am new to feeding birds I am in the country near a river just wondering what type of bird seed to use during the diferent seasons beeing close to the river and the woods there are a lot of different birds so far thanks Bret

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Hi Bret:

If you offer black oil sunflower seed, a nectar feeder for hummingbirds, and a suet feeder, you'll have all you need to attract the huge majority of birds that come to feeders. In spring and fall you can also scatter cracked corn along the ground near your feeders, and that will be very attractive to migrating sparrow species and their allies, most of which like to feed on the ground and do love their cracked corn.

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Hey Bret, you can also feed peanut pieces that will draw Blue Jays, Nut Hatches, and Cardinals. If your young enough you can plant natural bird food. Like Prarrie Fire Crabapple, Choke Cherry, and any kind of pine or cedar trees. Just remember if you start to feed birds in the winter don't stop until the snow is all gone where they can find thier own food. They are depending on you. You'll get alot of pleasure watching these beautiful and comical feathered friends.


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Add a hackberry to your list of plantings. They really draw the warblers at my house for some reason. Must be home to some delicious insects in the spring, plus berries in the fall. Leave some of the volunteer forest and river plants if you can. I have one that grows rather fern or palm-like with blue berries that kept a pair of black-throated blue warblers hanging around the yard for almost two weeks last fall. They attracted some local birders, as this is out of territory and they certainly entertained me all that time--right outside my kitchen window. Let the virginia creeper go if you can. You'll have an amazing number of warblers when they berry. You just have to keep an eye on it, or it will choke off your trees and shrubs. You might want to have an area of mulch and leaves that drains well but that you do not have to keep manicured in the spring and fall. It draws the migrant sparrows(foxes, white throated, white crowned and Harris') juncos, various thrushes, brown thrashers, and oven birds. They love poking and jumping backwards through the leaves. The biggest piece of advice, though, is to keep your feeders washed, even rinsed in bleach water, and the food fresh, as you do not want your new buddies getting sick before your eyes.

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there's some good info at this site...


goldfinches chickadees

woodpeckers nuthatches

titmice redpolls, pine siskins


cardinals jays

crossbills purple finches

white-throated sparrow house finches

white-crowned sparrows


doves house sparrows

blackbirds juncos

cowbirds towhees

white-throated sparrows tree sparrows

white-crowned sparrows chipping sparrows


starlings house sparrows

grackles jays

juncos bobwhite quail

doves ring-necked pheasants

white-throated sparrows


cardinals chickadees

grackles house finches

titmice house sparrows

sparrows starlings

mourning doves white-throated sparrows

jays juncos


goldfinches house finches

purple finches redpolls

pine siskins doves

chickadees song sparrows

dark-eyed juncos white-throated sparrows


hummingbirds orioles

cardinals tanagers

woodpeckers finches



orioles tanagers

mockingbirds bluebirds

thrashers cardinals

woodpeckers jays

starlings thrushes

cedar waxwings yellow-breasted chats


woodpeckers wrens

chickadees nuthatches

kinglets thrashers

creepers cardinals



woodpeckers goldfinches

juncos cardinals

thrushes jays

kinglets bluebirds

wrens starlings





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I agree with Steve on the sunflower seeds, suet feeder and a nectar feeder for hummingbirds(and orioles) but I also think a thistle feeder brings many more extras, especially Gold and house finches along with redpolls.

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I agree with Steve on the sunflower seeds, suet feeder and a nectar feeder for hummingbirds(and orioles) but I also think a thistle feeder brings many more extras, especially Gold and house finches along with redpolls.

I was offering a shortcut based on experience. After 35 years of feeding birds and putting out all types of seed, I've winnowed down my offerings to what I originally posted (black oil sunflower, cracked corn, suet and nectar), and those foods have brought in all the species already mentioned (including those in B.Amish's list that have occurred within my geographic area.) There's no doubt that some species prefer thistle/niger or peanuts or other foods, but the ones I've mentioned bring them all in.

You can put out a bigger variety of bird seed/food, but you're basically just spending money you don't need to spend.

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One important basic that we have forgotten to mention--water! Even with the river handy (and it does attract the birds) the birds still love to come to the bird bath for drinks, both winter and summer. They also love to bathe which can make for some delightful bird watching and photography. If at all possible offer some kind of moving water, either a small fountain in a pond or a dripper in the bath. I have a tiny pond. It is a nuisance to keep up (especially if you try to keep koi alive in the basement over winter)but you can't beat it for bird attraction. Particularly warbler migrants, doves and cat birds. My grandson and I started pumping it out and scrubbing it yesterday (yuck what a mess)before the migration really starts.

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I agree with Steve on the sunflower seeds, suet feeder and a nectar feeder for hummingbirds(and orioles) but I also think a thistle feeder brings many more extras, especially Gold and house finches along with redpolls.

I agree with both of you and think it depends somewhat on your location on the landscape. If for instance you live in an isolated area with little livestock surrounding you, what Steve said should work great. If you live on or around a small livestock operation, feeding what Steve suggests may bring you lots of house sparrows and that isn't cheap either. What really torqued me off was when they decided they could empty the sunflower feeders on a daily basis. This is why I opted several years back to include thistle feeders as the sparrows were not interested in it. I also stopped with any mixed seed or cracked corn. Trapping the sparrows helps but if you've got a neighbor nearby who doesn't take time to control them, the problem never ends. They just attempt to repopulate. I envy those who don't have to put up with these nuisances.

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Good points, Dotch. I'd forgotten what it's like to feed birds in house sparrow country. I did that for many years, but it was a long time ago. I guess I'm truly spoiled to live up in the boreal forest where the only house sparrows I see are on the Discovery Channel. A guy has to be careful that he doesn't start taking these things for granted. gringrin

BTW, our redpoll/siskin count was back up around 300 yesterday. Those redpolls are sure dawdling and delaying their trip north. Interestingly, about half of the redpolls at our feeders are males. That's a lot higher ratio than normal here.

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And you're 100% correct about thistle seed expense, Steve. Prices were getting out of hand this winter. I blended it down with a cheaper finch mix for awhile that would still (sort of) feed through the feeders. At the peak, we had about 100 redpolls. Between them, a loyal contingent of a dozen goldfinches and a smattering of house finches, they managed to blow through ~ $15/week worth of thistle seed. Using my farmer math, $45 per week would start to pull pretty darn hard on the ol' cash flow. grin

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The House Sparrows probably eat cheap compared to our red and gray "friends"

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