By John Schaust
A quality seed blend containing black oil sunflower, safflower and sunflower chips will attract a wide variety of summer birds. Safflower seed is also excellent for deterring squirrels and blackbirds when used alone. For a cleaner backyard, use a no-mess blend of seeds that have had their shells removed, leaving only the meat of the seed behind. No hulls make for tidier feeding, since there is no debris to clean off the ground.
Summer is also a great time to present birds with some different foods. Try offering grape jelly and oranges to attract orioles or mealworms for bluebirds, cardinals, catbirds and chickadees. You can also put out nectar to entice hummingbirds, but be prepared—once they are attracted to your yard, they become frequent feeder visitors. In fact, they can drink up to twice their weight in nectar every day.
Having a clean source of water will also attract a wider variety of birds to your yard. Birds need water just as much as they need food. Their higher metabolic rate and unique respiratory system drains moisture from their bodies quickly. It is not uncommon to see many new species of birds in your yard due solely to the allure of a bird bath.
Birds need a reliable source of water for bathing, too. They bathe regularly, not only because it feels good, but also because it helps keep their feathers clean for maximum flight performance and insulation. Also, when you provide water, you get the added bonus of watching your soggy new friends preen their feathers on a nearby perch.
Birds also need protective cover to preen, for times of rest, social interaction and as a retreat from foul weather and predators.
This is 3 of 5 in Attracting, Feeding and Appreciating Backyard Birds