There are many ways to attract wild birds to your yard, and providing a supplemental food source such as premium seed or high energy suet during the cold winter months is one of those ways. With different seed mixes attracting different varieties of birds (see below), you can tempt the specific birds that you want to your feeder. Remember that once you start feeding them, they will come to rely on your generosity. Along with a plentiful food source are the addition of shrubs and different types of trees that provide shelter from the elements and predators will improve the overall quality of habitat, and keep many of your feathered friends around all year long.
SALE! Select items including bird houses, heated birdbaths, and birdbath de-icers go on sale January 12, 2016.
While many bird enthusiasts are diligent about keeping their feeders full, we sometimes forget that birds need a consistent water source as well. Birds will eat the snow to fulfill that need, but that uses more valuable energy that is better spent keeping them warm when the temperatures drop into the single digits. Joan Barzcak, owner of Blumen Gardens, uses a bird bath heater and de-icer to keep the water from freezing. She says she has many varieties of birds that flock to the bath all winter long, inspiring the fascination of her grandchildren and neighbors.
We are offering a 10% OFF DISCOUNT when you pre-order a 25lb bag of birdseed!
We offer five different types of premium birdseed at Blumen Gardens: Fall/Winter Blend, No Grow – No Waste, Cardinal Mix, Nutrasaff and Nyjer Seed. They are available in bulk – just weigh up how much you need! There is NO FILLER, such as the typical cracked corn or milo. Currently we are closed, but we are taking orders for bulk seed in advance of our re-opening on Tuesday, January 12, 2016 (10:00am – 4:00pm).
The different types of seed are meant to attract different species of birds. Here is a short list of some of the birds that are commonly seen in the Northern Illinois area during the winter months and some of their favorite seeds.
- Dark-eyed Juncos – These are small sparrow-shaped birds that are dark grey or brown. A platform feeder placed 6” to 12” off the ground is their preferred eating style. They typically feed on the ground but you may see them visiting your tube feeders. A Junco’s favorite seed is white millet (this seed is included in our Fall/Winter Blend Birdseed) and peanut butter. The oil in the peanut butter will help keep Juncos warm during cold winter nights.
- Chickadee – Black-capped Chickadees also live in Illinois year-round and can be identified by their cheerful song, which sounds like their name as they sing. As their name states, the head of a Chickadee is black with a white band running under their eyes to their beaks. Their body color is lighter beige that fades to white in the front with grey wings. Peanut butter is a Chickadee’s favorite food! You can spread peanut butter on a pinecone with a wire used to hang it up on the tree. Try rolling the pinecone in seed with the peanut butter to give Chickadees a real treat this winter.
- Nuthatch – White-breasted Nuthatches are common to Illinois and prefer to live in a woodland setting. Even if you don’t live near a wooded area, you can still attract these birds with oil sunflower seed and suet feeders. You can recognize these blue-grey birds with a white belly, as they zip up and down a tree’s truck.
- Woodpeckers – We have quite a few species of common woodpeckers that stay in Illinois year round. Some common species include the Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, and the Red-bellied Woodpecker. Seeing a Pileated Woodpecker is rare in our area, but they have been spotted so keep your eyes open for them. Woodpeckers feed on oiled and striped sunflower seeds by wedging the seed into a crack of the tree (or your bird feeder!), and hammering open the hull to be able to eat the seed inside. They will also enjoy suet feeders as a treat during the winter.
- Cardinals – Possibly the most handsome of all the Illinois birds is the male Northern Cardinal with his bright red plumage. Being the Illinois state bird, you can be sure to spot these birds in our area year-round. Cardinals have large, orange beaks that are perfectly suited to cracking open larger seeds right at your feeder like sunflowers and peanuts (and they will love our Cardinal Mix of seed).
More unusual birds you may find at your feeders include Titmice, Flickers, Pine Siskins, Evening Grosbeaks, and maybe a rare sparrow, like the Fox Sparrow who has vibrant red markings, or the Chipping Sparrow with a red cap who makes the obligatory chipping sound.
For more information on these birds and identification for more rare species, please visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s web site at www.AllAboutBirds.org.