About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Should I change my birdseed blend in the fall?

I am a lifetime backyard bird feeding enthusiast. I follow you on Facebook and have found your blog posts to be very helpful. I finally convinced myself to leave the tried and true supreme blend to try your no-mess blend after you kept writing so much about it. Now I’ve been using no-mess since last spring and it’s like how could I have used anything else. I get more birds, fill the feeders less often and have no mess on the ground! Please tell me this blend is also OK to feed in the winter. ~ Laingsburg, MI

The Wild Birds Unlimited - East Lansing No-Mess Blend is perfect for winter bird feeding. Our unique No-Mess Blend bird seed features seeds that have had their shells removed so only the meat of the seed is left.

The first ingredient is Sunflower Seeds without the shell, the favorite of the seed eating birds like the cardinals, finches and doves. The second ingredient is diced peanuts. This attracts all the bug eating birds like the chickadees, jays, nuthatches, woodpeckers and titmice. The third ingredient is hulled white proso millet. This attracts your juncos and other ground feeding birds.

Our No-Mess blend is made to best meet the nutritional needs of our mid-Michigan birds. We do not include filler grains like oats, wheat, milo or “grain products” that decrease the price per pound of a mix, but the birds ignore. Because there is no wasted seed, our blends actually end up costing less to use while attracting more of the birds that you want to watch.

The National Wildlife Federation did a 2005–2008 study on which foods attract the most birds and keep them the healthiest. They found:

A bird’s diet must fuel a metabolism that can require up to a whopping 10,000 calories a day (equivalent to a human consuming 155,000 calories). A bird’s inner furnace burns especially hot during flight, the breeding season and on the coldest days.

This means birds must make highly efficient choices about what they eat. A backyard feeder is an especially efficient place to forage because it mimics what scientists call a “resource patch,” a cluster of food much like a fruit-laden apple tree.

But don’t worry that birds will become too dependent on your feeders. Evolutionary pressures encourage birds to continuously sample a wide variety of foods because any bird that becomes dependent on a single patch or type of food will perish if it runs out.

Birds are remarkably proficient at assessing potential food items for nutritional content and quality. Fresh sunflower seed, peanuts, white proso millet, safflower, Nyjer thistle seed and high quality suets are some of the best choices. Low-quality foods are discarded on the ground and may be avoided.

The study emphasizes that for birds, eating is not only about nutrition but about consuming a lot of food very quickly while avoiding predators. This makes the easy to eat, already shelled no-mess blend, very attractive to the birds.

No shells on the seeds makes the no-mess blend attractive to me, since there's no debris or weeds on the ground to clean up. Pound for pound, this blend offers the best value because you do not pay for the shells and the birds eat everything.

Related Articles:
- Common winter birds in Michigan and their food preference: http://bit.ly/yp9YQA
- How to choose the best suet cake http://bit.ly/xATYPQ
- How to have more colorful birds at your feeder http://bit.ly/qizlNh
- How to winterize your bird feeding station http://bit.ly/xucuF8   
- Why do Birds Scatter Seeds from Feeders? http://bit.ly/vZ6gzM
- Choosing a seed blend to feed wild birds http://goo.gl/5FpPr7

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