In the Spring, when everything begins to wake up from its Winter slumber, it is wonderful to coax a few extra songbirds and hummingbirds into your garden. Here are a few tracks to fill your spring garden full of birds from experts throughout the country.
According to the Alaska Department of Fish & Game, a bird bath is a popular item among the birds as spring begins to arrive, especially if your area is still iced over. We think a slightly warm birdbath would attract them like a jacuzzi attracts college kids on break!
|Photo courtesy of Ken Cook|
They also recommend the following seed mixture for birds that are looking to put on a little weight after a long winter: "unsalted sunflower seeds, thistle seeds, raw crushed peanuts, millet, scratch feed, various wild grains, and canary seeds." Making this mixture yourself avoids many of the filler seeds that are found in commercial mixes that are not eaten by most species, and this can often be made more economically.
"Fruit-eating birds, such as pine grosbeaks and Bohemian waxwings, are rarely attracted to feeders, but when snow covers most natural berries, wild cranberries, blueberries, or dogwood berries occasionally attract these colorful species to a feeder." (Alaska DFG)
According to the MInnesota Department of Natural Resources,
"American robins, Gray catbirds, Blue jays, and Northern cardinals are readily attracted to apple halves. Place the halves on nails that are driven into a perch, such as a tree stump or the lop of a log, near the ground.
"While it is generally well known that Northern orioles feed on orange halves, it is less well known that Red-bellied and Red-headed woodpeckers are also attracted to them. As with apple halves, simply push the orange halves onto nails that are partially driven into convenient logs, stumps, or the roofs of feeders."
The Montana NCRS recommends:
"To attract the greatest variety of birds, use a station with a variety of feeder types, such as gravity-fed cylinder tubes, hopper boxes, platforms, and suet feeders. Position them at different levels. Offer millet for ground feeders; black oil sunflower and thistle for finches, and peanut and suet for woodpeckers. Locate the station feeders next to natural cover such as evergreen shrubs or trees. The feeders should be clean with fresh food or seed."
Note: It is important to mix the peanut butter with the suet, because peanut butter by itself is often too silky for the birds to eat.
Finally, if you are a hummingbird lover, the Missouri Department of Conservation recommends planting some of the following plants in your garden, all of which attract these brilliantly colored speed demons of the bird world: Cardinal flower, Jewelweed or touch-me-not, Royal catchfly, Fire pink, Wild bergamot, Trumpet creepers, Native honeysuckles (Lonicera dioica, L. flava, L. prolifera), Red buckeye (a small tree), and Columbine.