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The Audubon Backyard Birdwatcher

Seeds are the preferred foods of feeder birds, both because they contain concentrated nourishment and they are often available for extended periods when other foods may be difficult to find. Commercial seed mixtures are an uneconomical way to feed birds. Mixes that contain sunflower seeds are often wasted because birds preferring sunflower seeds pick through the other seeds and drop them to the ground where they rot. It is a good idea to place sunflower seeds in a separate, large container.

Provide millet and cracked corn on the ground for sparrows, doves, and quail; and place sunflower seeds, mixed grain, fresh fruit such as apples and bananas, and dried fruit such as currants and raisins, at tabletop level for cardinals, grosbeaks, and finches. Place feeders on tree trunks or hang them from the lower tree limbs for woodpeckers and chickadees.

The Audubon Backyard Birdwatcher
Robert Burton and Stephen Kress
Thunder Bay Press, 2012

The majority of birdwatchers are the backyard variety who put out a feeder or two and maybe a bird bath of sorts. Unlike serious birders who may travel long distances to add some rare birds to their life lists, home-based birdwatchers take enjoyment from watching the species that come to visit and return year after year.

This guide serves the backyard variety with sharp photos and descriptions of the 100 most common birds found in home gardens of North America. Field guides to the other 8,900 species of birds worldwide are available elsewhere, but this one provides detailed instructions for setting up backyard feeding stations, building ponds and windbreaks, and choosing plants for the landscape that will attract birds to the yard.

Clark's Nutcracker at feeding station
Clark's Nutcracker at feeding station

Make Your Own Suet Mixture

Suet mixtures, which are sometimes called bird cakes or bird puddings, are a collection of ingredients set in melted fat.

Many people experiment with making up their own recipes for mixtures, and it is an ideal way of using up kitchen scraps.

Melt enough suet or fat to bind the ingredients together into a thick pudding. Stir the ingredients into the melted fat, pour the mixture into a can or other container, and leave it to cool and set. You can then turn out the sold mixture, and put it in a suet holder or mesh bag, or you can hang the container as it is or put it in a holder.

Blue Tit on a suet feeder

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