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.
The National Wildlife Federation did a 2005–2008 study on which foods attract the most birds and keep them the healthiest. Fresh sunflower seed, peanuts, white proso millet, safflower, Nyjer thistle seed and high quality suets are some of the best choices.
The study also 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.
- 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