A Novice Bird Feeder’s Journey to Successfully Attracting Birds
by All Seasons Wild Bird Store (in Eagan) employee, SANDRA TOCKO
If you are reading this, you are either currently feeding birds or aspire to do so. Hopefully you are not in the same position I was four years ago—throwing money into the bird feeding industry, but not seeing any birds at my feeders. A lot has changed since then; I learned how to attract birds, AND save money, ever since visiting my local All Seasons Wild Bird Store.
Trial & Error—Emphasis on Error
Getting started with feeding birds is easy, right? Hang a feeder with seed and they will come . . . or not. Buy another feeder, and different seed, the next time you are at one of the local box stores (buying a shovel or toilet paper) and you feel inspired to try feeding the birds again. Fill the feeder, hang it and wait. And wait. And wonder. Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon start to feeding birds.
After spreading the uneaten seed out in the woods for anything to eat, I hung the lonely feeders in our garden shed. Feeling defeated, but not willing to give up, it was time to visit an All Seasons Wild Bird Store with my head hung low to seek guidance and insight. How I wish I had visited the store from the day I felt inspired to feed birds!!!
Consulting the Experts
My perception of All Seasons Wild Bird Stores was that it is a place for those well-honed in the art of bird feeding to purchase fancy seed mixes and evolved feeders. What I didn’t realize is that the employees are a wonderful resource to start feeding the birds on any budget. I left the store with a simple, but well-designed feeder, a small bag of Joe’s Mix, and the instructions of, “hang it and see what birds visit”. Somehow, though still feeling the pain of earlier rejection, after speaking with the employees at the store, I had new faith. “Having ‘the right’ feeder and fresh seed makes a big difference,” I was promised.
With my new “No/No” mesh feeder filled with Joe’s Mix hung in my yard, I was absolutely delighted to see Black-capped Chickadees, goldfinches, nuthatches and Downy Woodpeckers arrive AND return! Feeling the energy, I returned to the store, became a “Frequent Feeder Member” and the next Official Feeder of the Birds. Four years later, our backyard has several types of feeders with varied seeds, nuts, mealworms and suet, water sources and MANY varieties of birds faithfully visiting.
In the well-written book on feeding birds, Wild About Birds, by the MN Dept. of Natural Resources, they validate that we are not alone in our attempts at starting off, but clarify what commonly goes wrong: “There are so many choices of bird food available that a novice bird lover can easily become confused…” (agreed), “If you use the right kinds of ‘good’ bird foods, you can probably double the number of species you attract” (very true).