The cloudless sky bore the sun’s full potential while the earth exhaled and uncoiled, basking in its warmth and affection.  The landscape seemed to soften and stretch in the golden rays as all of God’s creatures took advantage of her benevolence.  I am referring, of course, to the gorgeous weekend bestowed upon us.  A rare gift indeed.


As we ventured out to the local park district trails, determined to enjoy the spring-like weather, the wildlife seemed in lock step.  The squirrels were entirely at play, exuberant and silly, while every now and then remembering to scoop up dry leaves for their nests.  The birds were particularly animated, feeding and singing, while occasionally pausing to warm themselves on a sun-drenched perch.


Days like these are few and far between.  During mid-Winter to early-Spring, birds benefit from an augmented diet as Fall’s seeds are mostly gone, and insects have yet to make an appearance. Birds don’t necessarily need our help, but why not offer it and relish their presence?


Before you begin parsing out bread scraps, which is technically never advisable, or buying seed, take a moment to learn what to feed them and how.  There’s even tips for attracting certain birds with their favorite fare:


It’s recommended to choose one type of food.  In other words, consider offering sunflower seeds, thistle seeds or suet cakes as opposed to a mix of seeds.  It’s believed you’ll have more success and less waste.


It’s important to keep feeders clean by occasionally washing with soap and water.  Further still, toss any moldy seeds as they can sicken birds.


There are three different types of feeders – cages that hold suet cakes, thistle feeders that are cylindrical and have tiny holes, so smaller-billed birds can feed, and hopper style feeders.  It’s recommended to find a feeder that comes with a squirrel baffle, but none are 100% squirrel proof.


Chickadees prefer sunflower seeds, suet and peanuts.  Usually, you’ll only see one Chickadee feeding at a time as there’s a pecking order (no pun intended).


Cardinals prefer sunflower seeds.  Consider buying shelled sunflower seeds as they are less messy but more expensive.


Goldfinches have a penchant for thistle seeds.  If you want to attract these dainty beauties, opt for a thistle feeder, which will also keep bigger birds at bay.


Woodpeckers, though quite adept at finding larvae and insect eggs within tree bark, will eat suet and peanuts.

Remember to offer water when possible as it is equally as important as food.  Heated birdbaths are available that keep water from freezing.  Then, with a little patience and know how, you’ll be enjoying frequent visits from our feathered friends.

“A bird does not sing because it has an answer.  It sings because it has a song.”

-Chinese Proverb

Best wishes,

Kim Sweeney