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.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Autumn decorations provide food for the birds

I have been feeding these 2 Bluejays for months now with raw shelled peanuts and at the beginning they were never picky.  But now, they pick through the peanuts, and don't take them.  Can you be specific with the fruit I can give them and where do I get acorns?   Thank you very much. 
In the spring and summer Blue Jays aren't as finicky about what they eat. When birds are breeding and feeding nestlings they need a lot of fast food. They'll forage for seeds from flowers, trees, shrubs, and feeders. Though jays are primarily vegetarian they also will eat caterpillars, beetles and other small bugs.

Whole Peanut seed wreath from Wild Birds Unlimited
Some fruit and berries I've seen them eat are apples, pears, grapes, and blueberries. They also eat cranberries, lingonberries, red huckleberries, dogwood and much, much more.

At my feeder their first choice would be seed cylinders packed with pecans and peanuts in the shell. These are both foods with high protein and high fat to provide your birds with the critical nutrition they need to survive bad weather.
Birds eating seed cylinders from Wild Birds Unllimilted
To prepare for winter weather jays will collect nuts like acorn, beech, pecan and peanuts with their shells still on and cache or hide them up to 2.5 miles from their original source and retrieve them when needed. This behavior of burying seeds has helps Mother Nature with the range expansion of plant species. In one research study, 50 Blue Jays were observed selecting and caching 150,000 acorns over a period of 28 days. Each bird cached a total of 3,000 acorns by selecting and hiding an average of 107 acorns per day.

Planting oak trees will make acorns available for jays of the future. Or during the holidays there always seems to be lots of mixed nuts available in the shell. They also love pumpkin seeds and decorative corn.

As fall harvest starts and you start preparing for the holidays, autumn decorations for your home can also provide the birds with food:
1. Squash and pumpkin seeds Whether you are carving a pumpkin, or preparing a pumpkin pie, set aside the seeds. Blue Jays love them, and many other birds will eat them as well. You also may have notice squirrels rearranging the face of your Jack O’Lantern as they have quick nibble.
2. Apples When you are making apple pies don’t throw away the apple cores. There are a number of birds which may be attracted to apples, including Jays and Cardinals. You can also roll birdseed in with extra pie dough and bake it in the shape of a bagel. When cool hang from trees. The pie crust usually has lots of fat which is substitute for the insects that birds eat but are not plentiful in cold weather.
5. Nuts Many insect eating birds appreciate greatly this high protein food. Too much salt isn’t good for the birds, but a few leftover party nuts mixed with other bird seed can be a treat. You can also collect nuts from the trees in your neighborhood, including acorns and walnuts.
6. Peanut Butter Smear peanut butter on a tree trunk. You’ll be surprised how many cute birds this will attract up and down your tree. Or spread Peanut butter on pine cones, old bread, or cookies. Then roll them in birdseed and hang them on your bushes with raffia string.
7. Orange Rinds Cut a large orange in half and eat the inside. Poke holes ¼ inch from the rim and attach a twine handle. Mix the last handful of unsweetened cereal at the bottom of the box with stale crackers or bread crumbs, dried out raisins or holiday stuffing. Fill the orange half and hang the filled feeder from a tree.
8. Ornamental Corn Blue Jays and Squirrels will enjoy ornamental corn. Popcorn can also be strung with cranberries to decorate trees and feed lots of birds.
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