Many of the wild birds we most enjoy in our yards are not ones we actively try to attract. We’re hoping to change that this week with a little education on why you might want blackbirds, crows, mockingbirds and other common suburban birds in your yard. A little different from the other Bird Feeder Preferences Series articles, we hope you find this guide to feeding oft-forgotten feathered creatures inspirational.
Why feed birds that are around anyway?
Particularly in urban and suburban areas, birds must learn to cohabitate with constant growth. Because blackbirds, mockingbirds and crows are often considered nuisance birds and are less flashy than some of their small songbird counterparts, they do not have as much help from common bird watchers. Which is sad, because they are simple to attract, fun to watch and inexpensive to feed.
The most versatile bird feeder
The humble tray feeder is perfect for sharing bird food with a variety of different species. Trays are easy to clean, come in a variety of sizes and can be used for many different types of food. Here are a few smart ways to place tray feeders:
- If space allows, use varying sizes in different places around the yard.
- Place the trays at varying heights, according to the preferences of different birds.
- Use different types of bird food, according to the types of birds you would like to attract. For instance, raisins are perfect for mockingbirds and oats or sunflower hearts work well for pheasants.
What do these birds eat?
Unlike some of the smaller song birds, most of these common wild birds are not terribly fussy about what they eat. That is part of what makes them so adaptable. However, just like we do, they all have their favorites. Here they are:
- Pheasants – Pheasants feed on seeds in the wild and are basically scavengers. Placing tray feeders low to the ground with wheat, corn and even kitchen scraps.
- Blackbirds – These easy-to-please birds are among the most common in many northern yards. They will eat almost any seed and ripe small fruits like berries.
- Mockingbirds – Mockingbirds will eat small fruits like grapes and raisins in the winter. During warmer months they enjoy seeds and will be particularly fond of a bird bath too.
- Crows – Crows will, rather famously, eat almost anything. Some of the least expensive and healthful things to feed them are fruits, beans and vegetable scraps.
- Quail – Unlike many wild birds, quails are not particularly greedy birds and will eat only what they need. Quail particularly like garden scraps and corn cobs. They will also eat fruit and game bird feed.
What better way to use up cooking scraps and over-ripe fruit than to help your local wild bird populations thrive? Depending on how urban or rural you are, you might have more of one or two species than the others.
Happy bird watching!
Do you use tray or platform feeders to attract common wild birds? We’d love to read your stories and see your pictures in the comments below!