Feeding the Backyard Birds in Astoria NY

Pair of Northern CardinalsAutumn is the best time to start using your backyard feeder.  Feeding the birds is a way to bring nature right to your back yard.  How great is it spending a few minutes watching the birds fluttering around the bird feeder?

Choosing the type of food to provide can be tricky.  There are many different types of bird seed that you can purchase.  The best choice for attracting a wide variety of species that are native to the Astoria, Long Island City area is the black-oil sunflower.  Finches, chickadees, titmice, cardinals, nuthatches, and many other common feeder birds readily consume black-oil sunflower seeds.  Safflower is similar; however less species are attracted to the Safflower seeds.  Millet seeds are favored by sparrows, doves and juncos.  Nyjer is favored by finches such as the American Goldfinch.  Another option in addition to providing seed is Suet.  Suet is a cake like treat that contains a variety of seeds, fruits and other food items that woodpeckers and nuthatches seem to like.  Providing water as well in a bird bath would ensure that the birds would love you, especially in the winter when natural sources may be frozen.

In addition to food and water, birds need to feel safe at your backyard feeder.  Feeling exposed and vulnerable to predators may prevent birds from being attracted to your feeder.  Locating your feeder near trees and shrubs will provide an area that is safe and “bird friendly”.  Please make sure to keep your cats indoors if you are putting out bird seed. However, we at the Steinway Court Vet highly recommend all cats are kept as indoor cats.  This will provide a long life for both the birds and your cat.

Feeding the birds is a wonderful hobby; but you must maintain your bird feeder. Prevention of disease is possible with proper cleaning of your bird feeder. To prevent your bird feeder from becoming a source of disease the Cornell ornithology lab recommends:

• “Clean your feeders every two weeks—many feeders are dishwasher safe.

• If your feeders are not dishwasher safe, wash them thoroughly in soapy water, then soak or rinse in a solution of one part bleach to nine parts water.

• Dry your feeders before refilling so that the food remains dry

• Be sure to clean hummingbird feeders at least once a week

• And rake the ground below your feeders to limit accumulation of waste.”

Once you start feeding the birds in the Astoria, Long Island City area you may become addicted!  Perhaps you would like to participate in the Feeder Watch Project.