The end of this month is a perfect time to begin feeding wild birds. Birds are establishing their feeding patterns for winter. On snowy winter days, close to 21 species and several hundred individual birds can be seen at an effective home feeding station.

Setting up a feeding station can be quite easy. All one needs to start is some food and a feeder or two. You can place the seeds for the birds on the ground in sheltered places and in feeders. The feeders should be in spots where there is shelter but also where you can see the visitors from a window. Shelter includes woody plants such as trees and shrubs, especially evergreens and brush piles. The feeders can be simple open trays, hopper or tube feeders. Having a few feeders of various designs and at different levels would be best, then no one bird can dominate.

To simplify wildlife feeding put black sunflower seeds in the feeders and scatter cracked corn on the ground below the feeders. Yes, the northern cardinals will join the juncos, mourning doves, American tree sparrows and blue jays on the ground to eat corn with gusto. Cardinals, blackcapped chickadees, white-breasted nuthatches, American goldfinches and some woodpeckers will head for the sunflower seeds in the feeders.

Beef suet also is popular. The white, hard suet is available at most meat counters or in suet cake mixes and can be hung out in mesh holders out of the reach of dogs. Suet is a favorite of the woodpecker clan but is also eaten by other birds.


Jim Gilbert taught and worked as a naturalist for 50 years.