Let’s face it, we all love attracting birds but keeping the feeders full and providing them with what they want can become expensive. But did you know there are a few things you can do to feed your lovely friends without breaking your budget?
Here are some tips for you to try that will keep your feathered visitors happy AND not hurt your wallet.
Follow These Feeding Tips and Start Saving Money
Plant Native Wildflowers or Sunflowers
It doesn't have to be just feeders to attract and feed birds in your backyard. Another great way to provide nourishment to your birds, and save money is to plant your own sunflowers and wildflowers, which can be grown just about everywhere. These are more natural to birds and you won’t have to keep buying bags of sunflower seeds. This also makes your yard the perfect destination for an array of birds looking for a meal.
Try a Variety of Bird Feed
Black-oil sunflower seeds are one of the most nutritional and a favorite for many types of birds, but many birds also enjoy different or cheaper types of food. For example, bluebirds love mealworms while cracked corn and peanuts can attract birds like sparrows, doves, cardinals and more. Cracked corn is available in large bags at your local feed store. Another inexpensive bird food is chicken scratch. A variety of small birds love it, and it’s such a bargain. Check out your local feed stores, they are in general cheaper than pet stores.
Give Your Birds Certain Table Scraps
In the winter months when it’s difficult for birds to find food, table scraps are a great option. You obviously don’t want to just feed your backyard birds table scraps, but it’s fine to supplement some of the regular bird food you give them with a few table scraps. Some of the scraps you can give your birds include over-ripe fruit, old cereal (not sugar coated), potatoes, cheese, egg shells, a variety of crumbs from breads and baked goods. When cooler weather arrives, you can put a frozen block of bacon or meat fat inside your suet cage and hang outdoors. Avoid spicy and any moldy food.
Buy Feed In Bulk
Another way you can save money is to buy wild bird food and cracked corn in bulk. Purchase online or at your local feed store to find larger bags at a lower cost per pound. The bags are usually 40-50 lbs, and many times the price comes out to be approx half the cost of purchasing seed at a pet store. Also, many online stores that sell it in bulk will ship free.
It’s best to use containers that are made from sturdy materials that will not crack or break over time. Containers that are sturdy are also resistant to rodent damage. Galvanized metal containers are very sturdy and will not rust. Thick plastic bins with rounded corners are strong, and difficult for rodents and other invaders to chew.
Seed stored in a dry, shaded locations (garage, shed, storage box, etc.) will make your seed last longer and stay fresher.
Make Your Own Bird Treats
Yes, it’s easy make your own bird food for cheaper. You can make homemade wild bird food by mixing peanut butter and seeds together for a tasty treat. You can also offer a tablespoon of jelly from time to time for some variety, but choose brands that contain a minimum of additives.
One very popular “make it yourself” bird food is suet. Here is a home suet recipe that is easy, inexpensive and attracts a variety of birds. There are different recipes online for making suet, but here is one you may want to consider: Use 2 cups of shelled, unsalted peanuts, a ½ cup of raisins and 2 to 3 tablespoons of cornmeal. Process peanuts in a food processor until the peanuts are like peanut butter. Then add the raisins and process for another minute. Add the cornmeal and process again. You can now press this mixture into any mold of your choice. This recipe will have the greatest nutritional value for your feathered friends. By Linda Popejoy, Concord, North Carolina.
Try To Minimize Feed Waste
A great way to spend too much money on bird food is to waste it. It’s best to use feeders with bottom trays or use platform feeders. And above all, keep the squirrels out of the feeders! Use squirrel-resistant feeders. These come with a variety of mechanisms and features. Use baffles that are dome-like or canister-shaped. They can cause squirrels to slide away from feeding areas and can also protect food from weather (another way to waste feed). You can also hang your feeders on poles or shepherd’s hooks, away from trees.
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