By Cole's Wild Bird Products, Co.
Photographs courtesy of Cole's Wild Bird Products, Co.
Fall is a great time to feed the birds and the right bird feed can help attract a wide variety of both resident and migrating birds to your feeders.
There's an ongoing myth surrounding fall bird feeding, and beginner birders might mistakenly presume that feeding birds in fall will hurt their feathered friends. The biggest misconception is that if birds have a steady source of available food in fall they won't migrate, and then, when feeders are empty, the birds will starve.
However, not all birds fly south for the winter. Those who do are likely looking for their favorite foods — like nectar, insects or fruit — that aren't usually available when the weather turns cold. Fall bird feeding does not prevent migration, conversely, it can help the birds that migrate. Migrating birds require loads of calories for the energy they need to fly hundreds or even thousands of miles; full fall feeders provide a much-needed energy boost for them.
Birds that don't migrate will appreciate full feeders to help build up fat reserves to fight falling temperatures. It's also a myth that there aren't many birds around to feed in fall. While many birds rely less on feeders in fall because of the natural abundance of berries, fruits, and seeds, bird feeders will still see plenty of action. Backyard flocks will change as some birds leave for migration and more northern migrants arrive, but they will all welcome the opportunity to find an easy food source at feeders.
Best Fall Bird Feed
You'll want to provide a good variety of feed options and quality feed in fall. Cole's Wild Bird Products offers top-quality wild bird feed that contains only seeds that birds actually eat. Each type of seed is specifically selected for its appeal to specific groups of birds. No cheap filler seeds like milo, wheat, red millet, or flax are ever used. In addition, only the top 1 to 2 percent of each crop is pulled and used, plus everything is cleaned a minimum of four times to ensure good quality seed – no sticks or dirt. Cole's seed is kept as close to a natural state as possible and unlike other brands, Cole's does not wash or coat seed with chemicals and mineral oil to make it look better.
To give birds the best nutrition and abundant energy they'll need for migration or to keep energy up in cold weather, provide foods with high oil content, fat and calories. Offering a variety of different foods ensures that different bird species will find their feed favorites in your feeders.
Here are some popular fall feed choices:
Black oil sunflower – Seeds have slightly thinner shells and higher oil content than other types of sunflower seeds, making them a more efficient and nutritious food. Offer them in platform, tube or hopper feeders to attract a wide range of hungry birds.
Suet – For maximum calories, suet is a best bet. Cole's offers no-melt suet cakes and suet specialty feed blends adding nuts, seeds and other enticing elements into the suet.
Peanuts – Many backyard birds love this high-calorie, fat-rich nut. Because peanuts don't freeze, they're perfect for fall and winter.
Niger –Also known as thistle seed, niger is a favorite food for fall. Its oily seed offers lots of calories and helps birds store the fat they need to keep warm.
Fruit – Many songbirds that favor fruit migrate in winter, but many other birds that stay year-round will also enjoy the treat. Offer chopped apples, orange wedges, or banana slices, in bowl feeders, on spikes or nailed to trees. Cole's Nutberry Suet combines fruits, nuts, and seeds, making it a perfect choice.
Seed mixes – For convenient and economical fall feeding, nothing beats a good-quality birdseed mix. While birds can probably tell a good mix just by looking at it, humans cannot. Choose a mix that features large proportions of sunflower seeds and millet but avoid mixes with large proportions of unappetizing fillers like wheat, milo and corn. Birds will pick out the good stuff and leave the filler – and a big mess – behind.
There's more to feeding fall birds than just providing the right foods. By keeping the backyard safe and meeting birds' other needs, fall flocks will be healthy, active, and diverse.
Tips to tackle
Check feeders for damage from heavy summer use and repair them so they're safe.
Plant varieties that offer evergreen cover and lasting berries, nuts, or fruits to enhance your backyard birds' options.
Keep birdbaths full of fresh, clean water. Add a heater in late fall to guard against early freezes.
Allow leaves to build up under trees and shrubbery to attract birds with shelter, insects, and fallen seeds.
Protect birds from predators such as cats or hawks by hanging feeders in sheltered spots.
Feeding fall birds can be a rewarding way to enjoy the changing season just as backyard bird populations change. By offering the right food and following timely tips, it's possible to attract a wide range of birds this fall and ensure they're happily fed throughout the season. Visit Cole's to learn more.
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By Natalie Carmolli, Proven Winners® ColorChoice® shrubs
Photographs courtesy of Proven Winners® ColorChoice® shrubs
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