Monday Musings – What Seed is in Your Feeders?

As a follow up to last weeks post on the current configuration and layout of my Backyard Bird Photography Studio, I wanted to let you know what kind of bird seed I was using and why.

Tufted Titmouse Working Over a Seed

Frankly, I have followed a different feeder seed approach this year. Last year I was faced with an interesting dilemma. When I filled the feeders with seed on Sunday, they would usually be empty by Wednesday. Given that I leave the house early and come home late each night, the lack of seed would force the birds to look elsewhere for a food source and subsequently effect my viewing options for the weekend.

This year I tried a combination of 3 different feeding options in an attempt to ensure access to food all week. In the ranch feeder and the squirrel buster, I use Wild Birds Unlimited (WBU) Choice Plus Blend. This is the seed that seems to go the quickest and is usually gone by mid week. In the large perch feeder I use WBU Safflower Seed. My local WBU store made the comment that birds look at the choice blend as dessert and safflower seed as salad bar! The benefit of this strategy is that the safflower seed seems to make it through the whole week, providing some food source for the birds when the more desirable choice blend is cleaned out. The third source of food I provide is suet. I place one in a cage on a dead branch that the tree clinging birds seem to love and one goes in a cage attached to the ranch feeder. So far I have found most birds really like the suet with berries and nuts in them, more so than bark butter. This combination seems to keep the birds around all week and provides a food source for a longer period of time, something that is important in ensuring the birds can get food consistently during the winter.

As for why I use WBU seed, the answer is simple. While expensive it does seem to be fresh and better quality compared to the big box store brands. I will also tell you that I don’t see the birds tossing out a lot of the filler seed with WBU brands like they do with the big box brands. I believe that when you take into consideration how much seed the birds throw away when using the cheaper brands, the cost difference between WBU (they don’t use filler seed) and the cheaper brands is not that far apart.

5 thoughts on “Monday Musings – What Seed is in Your Feeders?

  1. Vincent Mistretta Post author

    Yes, Ruby Throated Hummingbirds are fairly common in New England and I do have some taken with available light. Most avian photographers use off camera flash setups to photograph hummers because the keeper rate is much higher. My keeper rate with available light is very low. I have seen some setups where there are 6-8 small flash units used.

  2. Chelle

    This is interesting and helpful. It is very important that you know what type of bird food or seed attracts the types of birds in your area. You also have to consider the weather condition in choosing bird feeds, since it greatly affects the quality and the malleability of the seeds. For instance, it is advisable that you use Black Oil Sunflower seeds during winter, primarily for the reasons that it contains high amounts of fat, holds a malleable texture, and thinner in structure.

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