AUSTIN, Texas -- Are you looking to attract chattering Carolina chickadees or scolding blue jays to your backyard? Texas Parks and Wildlife has a few tips on bird feeders and Wildscape gardening as spring bird migration nears.
Putting together the proper food for birds this spring will not only enhance your chances of seeing more birds but also can help fill their dietary needs, according to TPW wildlife biologists. "Commercial bird feeders, whether feeding seed, mealworms, suet, sugar water or fruit, should serve as a supplemental food source, not the primary diet," said Mark Klym with TPW's wildlife diversity program. "Fruit and seed-bearing plants should provide the main diet for these birds. This will also increase the food supply and improve shelter conditions for a variety of wildlife around the property."
Seed selection is essential, Klym stressed. Plants like the Mexican plum, chili pequine; pigeonberry or yaupon produce abundant fruit that cardinals, robins and other birds rely on over the winter. Purple coneflower, sunflowers, scarlet sage, and redbud produce seeds that finches and other seed-eating birds welcome. Reducing or eliminating the millet content (small, yellow seeds in seed mixes) of the seed tends to reduce the number of "undesirable" birds around the feeders. A possible alternative would be black oil sunflower seed, though some "pest" birds will eat it as well, Klym explained.
"All feeders need to be washed regularly and monitored for bad or old food," Klym said. "Cleaning up around the feeders and removing the seeds and other droppings around the feeder will reduce the potential for disease around the feeders."
A number of books are available about feeding and creating habitat for birds, among them "Texas Wildscapes; Gardening for Wildlife" by Noreen Damude and Kelly Bender. This book stems from TPW's Texas Wildscapes program created to promote wildlife habitat on small acreage in urban and suburban settings, Klym said.
For more information about feeding birds or the Texas Wildscapes program, phone Klym at (512) 389-4644 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.