Yes! If you are feeding wild birds, you should have water available close by. A nice bird bath works well. The water is then elevated, so birds can drink and bathe without worrying about predators. Birds need water to drink, but just as important, they need water to preen and clean their feathers. This keeps them in top flying shape. It is especially important to have water available in the winter. Birds can eat snow, but it takes valuable energy to warm and melt the snow. Here in Michigan, the species that stay all winter will spend nearly all day eating to store energy to keep warm through the long winter nights. There are a number of inexpensive bird bath heaters available. At the very least, put out fresh, warm water daily during the winter. Even if you don't have a feeder, water will attract passing birds.
There are almost as many bird diets as there are birds. Robins eat earthworms; sparrows eat seeds; owls eat mice; herons eat frogs; and oystercatchers eat oysters. The Everglade kite eats snail; the albatross eats squid; the kookaburra of Australia eats lizards. The elf owl of the American Southwest eats scorpions (first nipping off and discarding the deadly stinger). The tawny eagle of Africa eats everything from locusts to dead elephants; and geese eat grass.
The very favorite food of most wild birds is insects. When given a choice, birds will take insects, their eggs and larvae before seeds. When insects are plentiful, birds will visit feeders less frequently. We don't provide insects for birds to eat, so providing seeds they like is the best we can do.
Feeding wild birds is fun and easy. Black Oil Sunflower seeds, cracked corn, safflower and millet are all wild bird favorites. If you buy commercial bird feed, make certain that you are getting some of these seeds in your feed mix. Birdola® Products' Birdola®Plus™ is a gourmet seed blend that contains all these seeds, as well as peanuts, calcium, grit, and added vitamins, minerals and electrolytes. This gives as complete a meal as you will find in packaged seed mixes. Birdola® contains no "junk" seeds (like oats, wheat, and sawgrass) that most birds will shuffle through, and kick out of the feeder. Smaller songbirds love Nyjer (incorrectly called Niger Thistle) seed. Nyjer, safflower, sunflower hearts, peanut hearts and millet make up Birdola® Products' Finch Black Gold™, an excellent mix for smaller songbirds.
Outside of prepared mixes, birds like a great variety of foods. They like melon, squash, and pumpkin seeds. Blue jays like corn right off the cob, and chickadees like coconut. Peanuts and popcorn are as popular at the feeder as they are at ballgames!
And just like those feeder-robbing squirrels, birds are fond of nuts like acorns, hickory nuts, and beechnuts. They also like nuts that we eat, like peanuts, walnuts and pecans. Before putting hard-shelled nuts in your feeder, break the shells with a hammer, so all birds can get to the meat inside.
During the cold winter months here in the north, birds use an incredible amount of energy trying to stay warm. It is vital to feed birds food that is high in protein and fat content. The fat in suet provides the valuable energy that birds need to survive. Suet will attract a great variety of species, like woodpeckers, chickadees, tanagers, orioles and nuthatches.
Many birds love fruit as well. Put out apple, pear, and orange halves. Orioles and finches are especially fond of oranges. Many birds like grapes, which you should squash a little to make for easier eating, and fresh or frozen blueberries. Bluebirds, robins, and mockingbirds all like raisins and currants, which should be soaked in water to plump them before being placed in the feeder.
Broken up bits of muffin, and dry cereal (birds like Cheerios) are also favorites. They also like oatmeal, raw or cooked. Some birds, such as warblers and orioles, like sweets, so try putting out little saucers of jam or jelly. Don't leave the treats too long, or you'll attract insects or bees!