Originally Published: May 22, 2004 7 a.m.
Providing fresh fruit in your yard is an excellent way to attract non-seed eating birds. There are many bird species which are difficult to lure into the yard with traditional bird feeding practices. For example, robins, orioles, tanagers and bluebirds do not eat bird seed, but really enjoy fruit. When you feed fresh fruit on a daily basis you create a situation where you can ultimately attract a whole new segment of the bird population to your yard.
Some suggestions for fresh fruit are chunked watermelon, grapes, strawberries, raisins, cut-up apples (dice pieces into bird-size bites), and fresh cut oranges. Putting fresh fruit which is moist and sticky in a traditional seed feeder will not work. What is the best way to provide fruit? I recommend using a simple hanging platform feeder.
There are several styles available, some with wooden frames, others are made with recycled milk jugs. The bottom tray of the platform feeder is a wire material which is typically removable and easy to clean.
Many individuals like to offer suet year-round. When summer weather hits, it is time to make a small shift in what kind of suet is available.
There are two primary types of suet – cake and dough. Suet cakes are formulated for cool weather – in our area the months from October to May is the best time to put out suet cakes. However, when hotter weather arrives, it is best to switch from suet cakes to suet dough. Suet dough is formulated for hot weather. In addition to all of the regular suet ingredients, ground wheat is added to suet dough to raise the melting point. Ground wheat helps bind the suet ingredients together and results in less melting and mess when the weather is warm.
A fairly new suet product which I carry at Jay's Bird Barn is called suet nuggets. Suet nuggets look similar in size and shape to dry dog food, and come in a variety of different flavors designed to attract a variety of bird species. Some of the flavors are berry, blueberry, peanut, and orange. Suet nuggets are not as messy as suet cakes and doughs and are typically fed, like fruit, in an open platform feeder.
When you first put out a new feeder with new types of food it sometimes takes a period of time for the birds to discover the food. One suggestion to speed up the discovery process is to place the new food source in close proximity to existing feeders, or near your water feature. Once the feeder has been discovered, you can transition the feeder away from its temporary location to its permanent spot.
If you have specific questions, or issues related to wild birds which you would like discussed in future articles, you can submit them to Jay's Bird Barn, P.O. Box 11471, Prescott, AZ 86304, or e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Until next week, happy birding!
Eric M. Moore is the owner of Jay's Bird Barn located at Watters Garden Center and has been an avid birder for close to 40 years.