Backyard Bird Feeders

by Cace

A great family activity

Back yard bird feeders are a wonderful way to help introduce a child to the beauty of the natural world.

One of my favorite memories of childhood is that of our backyard bird feeders. The first one was just a simple bird feeder hung from a branch of the old crab apple tree. It quickly became a family pass time to stand at the kitchen window in the mornings or sit on the back porch in the evenings to observe what  birds where visiting us that day for their meal. Soon observing what not enough, we wanted to know more about these interesting creatures. Some birds we already knew by name, but any bird we didn’t would send a family member racing for the bird book, Birds of North America. Seeking out the description of the bird until we were sure we had pin pointed it’s identity.  We added a suet box to attract the woodpeckers, then a bird bath. The back yard became a very lively place in the early morning and evening hours filled with birds and squirrels. My mother and I enjoyed watching the squirrels and to my dads dismay, often left out treats for them too. Dad did not share in our enthusiasm of watching these clever little critters hang from the tree branches and empty the bird feeder. So two more feeders were added. Long tube feeders on shepherd poles both designed to deter squirrels. These did slow them down, but didn't stop them completely. As time pasted by, what started out as a simple bird feeder became a part of life. We could easily name all the common birds who frequented our feeder. We learned which birds preferred which kinds of foods, which species was the bravest, most timid, which would throw the biggest fit if the feeders were empty. I came to know and love all of our feathered neighbors. I believe this experience truly helped to foster my love of nature and the beauty of birds.

Making bird feeders can be a fun family craft project.

Pine cone bird feeder.

One of the easiest bird feeders to make.

You’ll need pine cones, string, peanut butter and wild bird seed.

Simply tie the string tightly to the top of the pine cone.
Smear peanut butter all over the pine cone then either roll the pine cone in the bird seed
Or let the kids sprinkle it on. Hang from a study branch.


Cheerio bird feeder

This one is great for very young children, but older kids enjoy it too.

You’ll need cheerios or a similar type of cereal and string

Simply string the cheerios onto a long piece of string.
You can either tie the ends together to create loops or tie off both end to create long chains.
Smear with peanut butter or leave plain, then hang your loops or chains on tree branches.

Egg carton bird feeder

You’ll need a egg carton with the top removed, scissors, string, and wild bird seed.

Carefully poke hole in each corner of the egg carton.
Cut 4 pieces of string about 12 to 14 inches long.
Tie a knot at on end of each piece of string and pull through the holes of the egg carton.
Gather the strings in the middle and tie them in a knot.
Fill egg carton sections with wild bird seed and hang from a sturdy branch.

Milk (or water) jug bird feeder

You’ll need an empty milk or water gallon jug, strong string, scissors, a marker, and wild bird seed.

Thoroughly clean and dry a gallon jug.
Tie the string tightly around the base of the opening at the top of the jug.
Outline cut out holes on the two sides of the jug away from the handle.
Cut out the holes.
Fill with wild bird seed and hang from a sturdy branch.

Types of wild bird food

There are many different types of wild bird food to choose from, some popular choices are:

Black oil sunflower seeds are a favorite of the seasoned back yard bird feeders and a great choice for beginners because it attracts such a large variety of birds. Such as Cardinals, Chickadees, Grosbeaks, Nuthatches, Finches, Titmice and Grackles.

Safflower Seed is a good choice for attracting Cardinals, Mourning Doves, Sparrows, Jays, Chickadees and Finches. Some people like this one because Squirrels, Blackbirds and Grackles don't care for it. 

Thistle or Nyger Seed is a favorite of Sparrows, Juncos, Cowbirds, Finches, Redpolls, Indigo Buntings and Mourning Doves. This is a tiny seed and is best used in tube feeders.

Cracked Corn will attract Doves, Starlings, Cowbirds, Blackbirds, Thrashers, Juncos, Sparrows and Finches.

Suet is popular with Woodpeckers, but Chickadees, Titmice, Wrens, Warblers, Mockingbird, Tanagers and Nuthatches enjoy it too.

Some birds like to eat some of the same food we do.

Try putting out your stale bread, pizza crusts or other bread products to attract Wrens, Mocking Birds, Thrushes, Blackbirds, Crows, and Sparrows.

Peanut Butter attracts Finches, Cardinals, Buntings, Sparrows, Chickadees, Towhees, Wrens and Grosbeaks.

Berries and Raisins attract Robins, Wax Wings, Orioles, Bluebirds and Thrushes

Fruits attract Wax Wings, Mocking Birds, Cardinals, Warblers, Finches, Grosbeaks, Buntings, Tanagers, Orioles and Wrens.

Offering several different types of food will attract a greater variety of birds.








Some useful books to help you identify birds that come to your feeders.

Smithsonian Handbooks: Birds of North...
$17.99  $11.98
National Geographic Field Guide to th...
National Geographic
$23.49  $10.29
National Geographic Backyard Guide to...
National Geographic
$12.89  $12.49

Some products you might be interested in.

Cherry Valley Feeders Deluxe Gazebo B...
Century Tools
$19.99  $17.90
Heath Outdoor Products BFP-3 8-Foot G...
Heath Outdoor Products
Only $29.99
Verdigris Leaf Birdbath
Online Discount Mart
$39.99  $18.29
C. & S. Products 707 Suet Cake Holder
C. & S. Prod.
$3.79  $3.00
C. & S. Prod. 12507 Peanut Suet Dough...
C. & S. Prod.
$1.99  $1.42
Mills Brothers Premium Wild Bird Food...
Mills Brothers
Updated: 06/02/2011, Cace
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FinancialTips4U on 11/24/2011

I really enjoyed reading about your childhood experience with bird feeders. These are the little things that make family so great and your experiences so unique. It is something I might have to try with mine :)

happynutritionist on 08/07/2011

I just purchased yet another is a Gazebo type...and a very young squirrel is chewing little pieces from it, but I don't have the heart to put up a squirrel proof feeder. Just trying to "teach" the very young squirrel not to do this by squirting out the window with a spray bottle. It seems to be working:-)

ohcaroline on 07/05/2011

I can't wait till I can get in my own home again to have some bird feeders. Great information here.

FlowerGardener on 06/12/2011

Oooo, thank you for listing what foods the different birds like! I mainly stick to black sunflower seeds, Thistle, and suet. I don't know where they go....but early in the season I get a pair of Orioles checking out their feeding spot for 2 weeks. I cut oranges in half for them and put out a tin of orange jelly.

I think you forgot my State bird :0
The goldfinch love thistle, I can't get them into the backyard with anything BUT thistle!

That_FishLady on 06/02/2011

I remember making milk jug bird feeders when I was little!

Jewelsofawe on 06/02/2011

I would like to have a bird feeder. Great page!

pkmcr on 06/02/2011

Great information and nicely presented - I also love the selection of products that the keen gardener or bird lover can use

mbgphoto on 06/02/2011

Very nice selection of products and great information. Glad to see you here on Wizzley.

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