Seeds and Fruits
Sunflower seeds come in thinner-shelled black oil and thicker-shelled striped varieties. The thin shells of black oil sunflower seeds attract a wide variety of birds, while the striped sunflower seeds are suitable for birds with larger bills that allow them to crack open the thick shell. Other seeds include safflower, corn (shelled and cracked), sorghum and peanuts. Apples and pears can be sliced to attract many birds, including some that do not normally use feeders.
Mealworms and Suet
Mealworms will attract many insect-eating birds and are often offered in small amounts due to cost. Suet is animal fat best offered in cold months. At warmer temperatures the suet will begin to soften and melt, potentially coating the bird's feathers as it feeds. It could also be transferred to nests. Raw suet spoils quickly. Suet is often mixed with nuts and seeds in a variety of recipes and suet blocks are commercially available.
PB and J
Peanut butter can be used by itself or as "glue" with other food materials. Peanut butter requires regular maintenance since it is a colloid and can separate out in heat over time. Spoilage is an additional concern since peanut butter is an excellent media for the growth of molds and bacteria. In small amounts, jelly can provide a quick sugar source for birds, but it is especially vulnerable to spoilage. The high-carbohydrate and low-protein content of jelly makes it unsuitable for immature birds.
Birds need grit to aid digestion. Grit is available commercially or can be improvised by grinding sterilized eggshells. Present grit separately from food.
Mix one part sugar to four parts water. In wetter conditions, the ratio can be changed to one part sugar to three parts water. Do not use honey, artificial sweeteners or red food coloring. Change the food in the birdfeeder at least twice a week to prevent spoilage.
Maintain the feed station to prevent the accumulation of molds and bacteria that can harm birds. Cleaning up spillage and placing the feeder appropriately can reduce unintended visitors, such as rodents.
Article Written By David Chandler
David Chandler has been a freelance writer since 2006 whose work has appeared in various print and online publications. A former reconnaissance Marine, he is an active hiker, diver, kayaker, sailor and angler. He has traveled extensively and holds a bachelor's degree from the University of South Florida where he was educated in international studies and microbiology.