By April Overall
Christmas isn’t quite Christmas without getting stuffed to the gills, is it? It certainly isn’t hard to do when you have two or more Christmas dinners to attend in the same day. While you’re mowing down on another helping of mashed potatoes, wouldn’t it be nice to know you’re giving the birds in your backyard the same star treatment? We’ve got a roundup of the top seven treats birds will go crazy for. (They may even inspire a carol or two from your sing-song feathered friends!)
- A Sweet Tooth for Sunflower
When in doubt, go for the ever-classic sunflower seed. It’s the turkey and gravy of all feasts – all birds love them. There are two kinds of sunflower seeds: black oil and striped. Black oil seeds have thin shells, making it easy for all kinds of birds to crack into them and chow down. So opt for the black oil seeds if you really want to attract a wide variety of winter birds at your feeder this holiday season.
- Santa Brings Safflower
Hello, cardinals! These bright and beautiful birds absolutely love safflower seeds. Their shell is a bit difficult to break open, but cardinals, grosbeaks, chickadees and doves manage just fine.
- Spread Holiday Cheer with Dried Corn
Dried corn is a great low-budget gift for the birds. Whole-kernel corn is wildly popular with jays, pigeons, doves, quail and even pheasants, while blackbirds, finches and sparrows opt for cracked corn. A word to the wise, though – don’t buy your dried corn in plastic bags, and keep it as dry as you possibly can; it’s easy for corn to go bad and even become toxic when wet!
- Make Merry with Millet
It might seem festive to offer your feathered friends red millet for Christmas, but birds undoubtedly prefer white to red. Millet is loved far and wide by ground-feeding birds like quails, doves, juncos and cardinals. Scatter a bit on the ground and watch them flock!
- Nijer for Noel
Nijer is the luxe item on many birds’ Christmas lists. It may be expensive, but if you purchase a special nijer feeder for the seed, you’ll avoid a lot of waste – and that means more for the birds! The goldfinches, siskins and redpolls in your backyard will thank you!
- Stuff Their Stockings with Suet
Insect-eating birds like chickadees, woodpeckers, jays and nuthatches find suet a special treat for the winter. Made from animal fat, it’s a great source of energy that keeps birds warm through the chilly months. You’ll definitely only want to keep it out if there’s snow on the ground, though. When temperatures rise, suet can quickly become rancid.
- Move Over Fruitcake; Birds Love Fruit
On Christmas Eve, head outside and place fresh berries, sliced apples, melons and grapes near your feeders or on trees. Mockingbirds, catbirds, waxwings and tanagers will flock to your backyard to feast. You can also soak dried raisins and currents in water for your winged visitors. Just be sure to remove any fruit that’s left over on Boxing Day so it doesn’t spoil.