When I first moved into the cottage last year, I wanted to buy some really nice birdseed to attract a variety of local feathered friends. The winter is such a beautiful time to watch birds because they provide so much beauty and color in a season that is seemingly lifeless. After visiting my local birding store, I realized that buying organic, wild bird seed was going to be very expensive! My area is particularly known for its active feathered population, so I wasn’t giving up! After some research, I created my own birdseed and have been loving it ever since!
Why make your own birdseed?
There are more benefits to this homemade birdseed than saving money:
Better for the birds:
Usually, inexpensive bird seeds have lots of filler. For example, a grain called milo is not preferred by most backyard birds, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Services, but is prevalent in most store-bought blends. This filler takes lots of space in your feeder but is usually left behind by birds. After learning this, I realized that in order to get the most bang for my buck, I would need to make my own.
Better for your home:
I frequently like to make birdseed from scraps of peanuts, dried fruit, sunflower seeds, and anything else left over from recipes or snacks. Of course, make sure whatever scraps you use are safe for birds! This is a great way to use up or repurpose food to avoid waste.
How to make your own wild bird seed blend:
STEP ONE: Who do you want to attract?
Different species are attracted to different foods. Here are a few examples:
Orioles, Tanagers, Mockingbirds, Bluebirds, Thrashers, Cardinals, Woodpeckers, Jays, Starlings, Thrushes, Cedar, Waxwings, Yellow-breasted Chats
Cardinals, Chickadees, Grackles, House Finches, Titmice, House Sparrows, Starlings, Mourning Doves, White-Throated Sparrows, Jays, Juncos
Starlings, House Sparrows, Grackles, Jays, Juncos, Bobwhite, Quail, Doves, Ring-Necked Pheasants, White-Throated Sparrows
Doves, House Sparrows, Blackbirds, Juncos, Cowbirds, Towhees, White-Throated Sparrows, Tree Sparrows, White-Crowned Sparrows, Chipping Sparrows
Goldfinches, Chickadees, Woodpeckers, Nuthatches, Titmice, Redpolls, Pine Siskins, Cardinals, Jays, Crossbills, Purple Finches, White-Throated Sparrow, House Finches, White-Crowned Sparrows
STEP TWO: Pick a few ingredients from the following list.
I usually like to go with whatever is on sale in bulk at the store or online. All of these are safe and healthy for wild birds:
Don’t forget to choose raw, organic whole foods for your blend. Backyard birds do not want your leftover BBQ flavored peanuts! You can opt to roughly chop some of the seeds and nuts but you don’t have to.
STEP THREE: Blend and serve
Mix your ingredients in a large bowl and spoon into your feeder. I have a few different ones I love, but this is my favorite style. I like to make a big batch every month or so and store the surplus in a jar for refills.
STEP FOUR: Become a birder
Place your feeder somewhere you can easily watch for activity. I have a few strategically hanging on my front porch where I can watch from my living room windows. There is actually an incredible bird identification app that I use called Merlin. This app helps you identify and record which species you are seeing based on the date, location, and characteristics of the bird.
STEP FIVE: Enjoy
Casual bird watching is such a peaceful and slow activity to enjoy in winter. Taking time to provide food and identify different species gives me such a happy feeling during these long, cold days.
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