The end of October is a perfect time to begin feeding wild birds. Now is when birds are establishing their feeding patterns for winter. With proper cover -- trees, shrubs and brush piles -- birds will congregate at feeding stations. On snowy 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 feeding stations can be as effective.

Setting up a station is easy. All one needs is some food and a feeder or two. Ideally 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, especially evergreens, and brush piles -- all places to get away from wind, rain, snow and enemies. Having several feeders of various designs and at different levels would be best, then no one bird can dominate.

To simplify feeding, put black sunflower seeds in the feeders and scatter millet and/or cracked corn on the ground below the feeders. Northern cardinals will join 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 the sunflower seeds in the feeders.

Another popular bird food is beef suet. 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 good energy source for birds. It's a favorite of the woodpecker clan, but is also eaten by nuthatches, chickadees and others.