Tips on Feeding Backyard Birds and a nestbox for Chickadees.

In Vancouver where I live I buy Nyjer and feed it all year round. I get American Goldfinches all year long. In the spring and summer they are here relentlessy. They fight to get to the nyjer. I use a easy cleaning tube feeder like this one from Wild Birds Unlimited. I use a seed tray so that the nyjer seeds that the birds drop don't end up on the grass to sprout or on the ground to attract mice and rats. I use a weather dome guard  to prevent rain from getting the seed wet. I try to clean it twice a week.  Try to clean your feeders at least once a week to ensure the birds are getting healthy, unmouldy food and to prevent the spread of disease like avian pox. If you do see a sick bird with avian pox or lethargic with Salmonella. Immediately remove your feeders and dump all the seed and suet and wash them with hot water and soap. Immerse feeders in 1:32 bleach solution (1 part bleach, 32 parts water) Soak 10 minutes, scrub, rinse thoroughly and allow to dry fully before refilling (a dry feeder will deter mold growth on seeds). Never use wood feeders, they grow mold and can't be cleaned easily. Don't rehang your feeders until the sick birds have long left the area wait 2-3 weeks at least.

My njyer feeder attracts several different birds not only goldfinches. I regularly get Song Sparrows, House Finches, Dark-eyed Juncos, White-crowned  Sparrows and Black-capped Chickadees at it. You can buy and read more about the nyjer feeder I use HERE. Also, you can see the weather guard I use HERE and the seed tray HERE.

I use a starling suet cage all year that allows Northern Flickers and Downys and Hairy Woodpeckers to get in and feed. Unfortunately Pileateds can't get in but if I don't have the starling proof suet cage the starlings get in and finish my suet off in a day. They also scare away all the other birds as well. In the summer I use "no melt" suet.  The bird do not like this as much as the regular stuff so I only use it when it's blistering hot in summer. Every year I have chickadees nesting in my yard and this year was no exception. This brood was successful with 4 chicks and each year the parents feed the fledglings suet. During the nesting season I keep it stalked as House Sparrows and House Finches also use it to feed their fledglings. Other birds that come to my suet regularly are Bushtits, Song Sparrows, Black-capped Chickadees, Dark-eyed Juncos, Hairy and  Downy Woodpeckers and Northern Flickers, Yellow-rumped Warblers. You can read more about the "WBU Starling Proof Feeder" by clicking HERE and scrolling down to it. It is really good to keep suet out in winter especially when birds need more energy and food is more scarce.

I use the advanced pole system to feed birds. Before I used this rats were a problem despite keeping the feeder area clean with regular sweeping of the ground. Their noses can smell the feed and they are good climbers. This pole system from Wild Birds Unlimited is not cheap but it totally solved my rat problem.

You can read more about it and see what it looks like HERE. The baffle really works to keep squirrels and rats from getting the food.

I use a hummingbird feeder that attracts Anna's Hummingbirds all year and Rufous in the spring and summer. Space out 2 -3 hummingbird feeders in the yard so they don't fight too much and all can feed more easily without being driven off constantly. Remember to clean the Hummer feeder every 3 days, even if it looks clean as sugar can turn rancid and make the birds sick with bacteria. I use a pole system to hang up the feeder with bee guards and ant moats. Unfortunately ants sometimes climb the pole and get in and die. Hummingbirds eat ants so it really isn't a problem. You dont want to have too many bees or wasps around your hummingbird feeders as it will deter Hummingbirds from feeding. I find the round circular hummingbird feeders with perches are more attractive to hummers but better yet more easy to clean. The bottles I used to use are a real pain to clean and you need a bottle brush and I never felt it was clean enough. This feeder is even easy to put in the dishwasher. You can see what it looks like HERE

Your birds will be very happy if you take these simple steps and if you want to naturally feed your birds and enjoy gardening I recommend this great book "Bird by Bird Gardening" by Sally Roth that I use and really works. You can buy the book HERE

If you are interested in making a nestbox for your birds I recommend these. I have had Bewick's Wrens and Black-capped Chickadees nesting in the yard. This box is used for Chickadees and is simple and easy to use.  Make sure to put your nestbox up high away from any fences where predators can get them. Keep them off trees as well as squirrels regularly eat nestlings if they can get them so do rats. Make sure the hole is small enough so that invasive, vicious House Sparrows cant get in and kill the parents or nestlings.  I put my nestbox up high on a wooden pole so that it is out of reach of predators. Make sure it is near cover though where the fledglings can go in dense brush, leafy trees away from crows that want to eat them. You can download a great nestbox plan to do it yourself HERE

Keep your backyard birds smiling like this Dark-eyed Junco - Photo: Melissa Hafting


  1. Great tip for the beginner like me, will definitely try to implement these tips

    1. Thanks glad I could help. I really enjoy feeding the birds and all the birds that come into the yard. Good Luck! Let me know how it works out.


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