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Open Mic: Tips for attracting the best birds this fall

At the Mic: Ruth Bloedorn

Ruth, of Chilton, Wisconsin, is co-founder of Birds Choice, a bird feeder design and manufacturing company she founded with her husband Dan in 1995.  Birds Choice seeks to build only the best products for attracting birds and enhancing backyards for outdoor enthusiasts everywhere. For more information on Birds Choice, check out


As the weather changes and leaves begin to fall, many people believe that it’s time to stop filling their bird feeders for the season. Wild berries, fruit, and crops are abundant, causing many to believe that birds will have more than enough to sustain them.

One important detail that is often overlooked is that fall is migration time. Birds instinctively know when to migrate, not only by the change in climate, but also by the decreasing number of daylight hours. This is the time to ensure your backyard offers a variety of seeds and feeders, along with a water source, for migrating birds so they can remain healthy and well fed for their long journey south.

Birds Choice offers the following tips for attracting the best birds to your backyard during the fall and winter months. By heeding this advice, you may be surprised to see beautiful birds at your feeders that you have never seen before!

Fly-throughfeederTip #1: Offer bird foods that have high oil content and are high in calories.

Black oil sunflower seed is a must! A good blend of seed for the fall and winter would contain sunflower seeds, white proso millet, and nuts. Make it easy for the birds to feed  by using a fly-thru feeder. They’re favored because you can easily see the birds as they  pick up seeds or nuts, and the large platform area on fly-thru feeders will attract the most birds. Nyjer seed offered in a separate feeder is another high-energy food for those looking to attract finches.

SNLOGwBird2Tip#2: Seek out suet! 

Suet cakes and logs are made from rendered animal fat. Suet is high in protein, fat, and calories and is enjoyed by birds when seed and insects are getting scarce. Suet will help you attract a steady stream of woodpeckers, jays, chickadees, nuthatches, thrashers, and kinglets – all  of whom will be awaiting a turn to get a taste of this high-energy food.

Tip#3: Keep fresh water available.

Birds are attracted to moving water, so this is a great way to bring them to your backyard. To make sure your birdbath always has a steady supply of water, add a dripper or mister that connects directly to your outside faucet. Further enhance your birdbath by adding water wigglers or flow rocks, both of which will help recirculate the water and keep it from getting stagnant. As the days get cooler, add a heater to your birdbath to keep it from freezing. And remember that birds like shallow water, so be sure your source is no more than 1.5 to 2 inches deep.

Tip #4: Do some fall cleaning!

Fall is the time to open up your birdhouses and pull out abandoned nests. In the winter, birds share birdhouses to keep warm. Cleaning out your birdhouses will give birds the extra space they need to come together and stay warm.

Tip#5: Put decals on your windows.

As the leaves fall and the trees become bare, birds see reflections in the windows and mistake them for real trees. We have all heard the thump at
the window and know what it means. Prevent window collisions by putting specially- made decals on your windows to deter birds from striking them. The good news? Most decals simply cling to windows, making them easy to put up and take down.

Tip#6: Provide distractions for squirrels.

Believe it or not, people watch and feed squirrels almost as much as they do the birds! Deter squirrels from visiting your bird feeders by installing baffles on your feeders. You could also set up a feeding station in a different area using foods that squirrels like better than bird seed, such as cracked corn, corn on the cob, and critter mix. If they persist, buy a squirrel-proof feeder.

As winter approaches, natural food sources for birds will start to dwindle. Be sure to provide the best for the birds you love! Keeping your feeders clean and full will keep birds well nourished and give them every reason to visit and keep coming back year after year.

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The ABA Blog's Open Mics offer an opportunity for members of the birding community to share their voice with the ABA audience. We accept all and any submissions. If you have something you'd like to share, please contact blog editor Nate Swick at [email protected]
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