By Eileen Richardson
Setting up your yard to attract the most wild birds and the most diversity is partially dependent on the feed and feeders, and partly on the vegetation types in your yards.
If you are going to be daily or weekly filling your feeders in your yard I suggest you get 'no Mess feed'.
This mixture of seeds is less likely to sprout into seedlings from the seeds that fall to the ground. This seed mixture contains shelled sunflowers (30% min.), millet, and Nyjer and is enjoyed by smaller and larger birds.
Nyjer seed is often called “thistle seed”, when placed in tube feeders, nyjer seed is valued for its high nutritional value and special appeal to Goldfinches, House Finches, Purple Finches, Redpolls, Siskins, Juncos, and even Mourning Doves.
Cracked Corn is well liked by Jays and Squirrels.
I have suet out year round. If the summers where you live are in the 90s or higher consistently, the suet will melt, so during this season I suggest you don’t put out suet. Putting out suet is suggested especially during winter to provide energy for birds. Common birds that eat suet are downy, hairy, red-bellied, and pileated woodpeckers. Chickadees, northern flickers, nuthatches, and starlings are also avid suet eaters. By adding suet to your wild bird's menu, you will also attract wrens, warblers, thrushes, brown creepers, brown thrashers, and blue jays.
There are many types of birdfeeders to choose from. It depends on what style you want to be attractive in your yard, design for ease of filling, or type of seed that is filling them.
I suggest the droll yankee line. There is a diversity to choose from. Also they are well designed and have a lifetime guarantee. I personally returned a tube feeder that lost a piece from our NM windy spring weather. I still have it 8 years later.
To prevent squirrels from getting the seed there are different designs. I suggest the squirrel stopper line.
Then we have the delightful hummingbird and their specific birdfeeders. Hummingbird feeders come in many styles. I don’t really have any preference except for the ease of cleaning.
Some of the bottle style feeders are easy to fill, but difficult to clean. Hummingbird feeders really should be washed out with hot water only weekly. Bacteria forms inside these feeders and ants collect inside frequently.
Birdhouses are an addition to your bird friendly environment. Bluebirds, purple martins, house wrens, chickadees, tree swallows and house sparrows are the most common occupants. Attracting birds like wood ducks, screech-owls, woodpeckers, titmice and nuthatches may also be possible. But setting up a successful birdhouse isn't as simple as “build it and they will come.”
Check out this article from the National Wildlife Association with info on how to set up the right birdhouse in the right location.
This short article gets you started in this exciting rewarding hobby in your own yard.
I have 5 or six birdhouses in my yard made by a local artist- Birdhouse Whimzee their website is birdhousewhimzee.com. On the site you will get an idea of their work. He would be glad to do a custom birdhouse for you if you want. PLEASE LET THEM KNOW YOU GOT HIS INFO FROM NATIVE WINGS OF NEW MEXICO.
I will be adding more specific articles on specific bird species and their needs and preferences in your backyard setup.
Good Luck and Enjoy!