GOLDFINCH ON CONEFLOWER, PHOTO BY JESSICA KIRSTE/PROJECT FEEDERWATCH
Your yard can be a feast for songbirds, even if it’s just a small urban plot! Choose your plants well, and don’t be too quick to tidy up after the blooms have faded. You’ll be helping to sustain finches, grosbeaks, chickadees, cardinals, siskins, and the many other birds that inhabit your garden year-round.
“To help birds this winter, go easy on fall yard work.” ~ Audubon.org
Sunflowers are a top choice for birds, and there are many to choose from. Towering ‘Mammoth’ heads produce a prodigious amount of seed. Multi-branching varieties such as ‘Valentine’ are less apt to crash in the wind. ‘Peredovik’ black oil sunflower, often sold as a foraging crop, bears thin-shelled seeds that are high in energy and easily cracked by birds.
Birds’ Eating Preferences
Not only do different birds have different dietary needs but they might change, depending on the season. These preferences can determine their migration behaviors. Most species of warblers and vireos primarily eat insects; for them, fall migration is a must. Omnivorous birds such as sparrows eat insects, seeds, and fruits, giving them lots of flexibility. Their fall migration can occur much later in the season. Yet other birds have digestive systems that allow them to switch from a summer insect diet to one composed of available fruits and seeds in fall and winter.
Easy-from-Seed Bird Favorites
ROSE BREASTED GROSBEAK ON SUNFLOWER, PHOTO BY MAY HAGA/PROJECT FEEDERWATCH