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Bird Watching For Beginners

Birds provide a lovely backdrop to any environment.  Their beautiful songs make us feel comforted and relax us on a warm spring morning.  Their gentle motions are a delight to watch, and particularly for birdwatchers who know what to look for, it’s a fulfilling hobby.  If you are looking to begin bird watching in your own back yard, remember that some birds will be more attracted than others depending on what kind of bird seed is used.  The most common type of bird seed is simple, pure sunflower seeds.  These seeds are known as “black oil sunflower seeds.”  The sunflower seeds with white stripes are a bigger variety and have more meat inside, and are much easier for birds to crack with their beaks and get into the center.  Generally all birds enjoy sunflower seeds, including robins, finches, blue jays, cardinals, woodpeckers, and many other species.  You can find large bags of sunflower seeds at just about any retailer.  Once the birds are accustomed to the seeds and the feedings, you can begin mixing in other forms of wild bird seed.
 
Suet is a form of birdseed that is made from kidney fat.  This type of seed attracts birds that eat insects like woodpeckers.  Some suet combines other ingredients such as berries, and comes in a cake-like form.  There are bird feeders especially designed to house suet cakes so that they are easily accessible for the animals when they come to feed.  You can be creative when it comes to mixing your wild bird seed.  Remember that just like humans, birds enjoy variety in their food.  Add in some raisins, grapes, or dried cranberries for a special treat.  Throw in some unsalted and unbuttered popcorn or peanuts.  Be sure to only include food that has not been treated with preservatives or too much salt, as this can be harmful to birds.  Nectar is another option used to attract birds, although it does not contain any seeds.  Nectar is basically a sugar and water combination that attracts hummingbirds to feed.  Orioles also enjoy drinking nectar.  You can find small containers that can be hung from trees or throughout the garden that will hold the nectar, and the birds will come and enjoy its sweet taste.
 
No matter what kind of bird seed you choose to use for bird watching, remember that it needs to be kept in a cool, dry environment.  If too much moisture gets into the bird seed, it can develop mold which is harmful to birds.  If you’re only using a fairly small amount of bird seed at a time, try storing the rest in sealed plastic containers to keep the moisture out.  Don’t store your seed for too long and try to keep it as fresh as possible.  Another important tip to remember is to NEVER give birds anything with chocolate in it.  Chocolate is as harmful to birds as it is to dogs, if not more so.  Be sure everything you give your birds is free of toxins.  If you want to attract even more birds, consider adding a bird bath to the mix.  The birds will use the bath to drink and to clean themselves, and you can turn your backyard into a real bird watching oasis if you combine the bird bath with the feeder.  If your friends or neighbors also enjoy feeding and watching birds, ask them what seed combination's tend to attract which birds, and place these seeds in your garden or yard accordingly.  Before you know it, you will have the opportunity to watch a wide variety of beautiful birds in your very own backyard.