This is a perfect time to begin feeding birds when they are establishing their feeding patterns for ­winter. With proper cover — trees, shrubs and brush piles — birds will congregate in numbers at feeding ­stations.

On snowy winter days, I have recorded as many as 15 species and several hundred individual birds at the Lowry Nature Center ­feeding station in Carver Park near Victoria. Home feeders can be as effective.

All one needs is some food and a feeder or two. You can place the seeds for the birds on the ground in sheltered places and in a variety of feeders. Ideally, the feeders should be in spots where there is shelter, but also where you can see the visitors from a window. The feeders themselves can be simple open trays, ­hopper or tube feeders.

Put black sunflower seeds in the feeder or feeders and scatter cracked corn on the ground to ­simplify the feeding process. Yes, the northern cardinals will join the juncos, mourning doves, American tree sparrows, and blue jays on the ground to eat cracked corn with gusto. Cardinals, black-capped chickadees, white-breasted nuthatches, American goldfinches, and more will head for sunflower seeds in the feeders.

Another popular bird food is beef suet. Basically hard fat, suet is available at most meat counters or in suet cake mixes. Hang it in mesh holders out of the reach of dogs. Suet is a good energy source for birds, and it’s a favorite of the woodpecker clan.


Jim Gilbert’s Nature Notes are heard on WCCO Radio at 7:15 a.m. Sundays. He is the author of five books on nature in Minnesota. He taught and worked as a naturalist for 50 years.