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Cardinals enjoy sunflower seeds as do most other birds that stay in the area including finches and chickadees.

As fall approaches this year, think about a new form of family entertainment. Why not swap the television for a bird feeder? Feeding birds can be entertaining as well as a boost for the state’s feathered friends.

To attract a variety of birds, set up several kinds of feeders to suit the feeding needs of different birds. Low platforms or ground feeding will bring in juncos, doves and sparrows. Higher platform feeders with sunflower seeds will attract cardinals, finches and chickadees. Hanging feeders will keep you entertained with the antics of woodpeckers and nuthatches.

By putting out a particular type of feed, you can choose the birds you want to attract. Black oil sunflower seeds are a good all-around choice, preferred by the goldfinch, cardinal, chickadee, purple finch, tufted titmouse and others. To attract a clientele that’s a little different, hang some beef tallow in a suet feeder or mesh bag. Soon, you’ll see woodpeckers as well as nuthatches and chickadees.

If you don’t want to build or buy a feeder, simply spread your seed on the ground or on a deck. You can also hang suet from the mesh onion bags you get at the grocery store. Also, keep a supply of water available as well.

Cooking up some bird food

You can make your own bird food from scratch! The Old Farmer’s Almanac has shared this recipe for junco cornbread, which is a favorite of hummingbirds.

Ingredients:

3 cups cornmeal

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ cup fat (meaning drippings or lard)

3 cups water

Method: Mix all the ingredients together and bake in a deep pan at 375ºF for 30 to 35 minutes. Reduce heat if bread looks as if it is forming a hard crust. May be doubled or halved. When done and cooled, place in mesh bags and hang outdoors.

Enjoy the birds

In addition to a bird feeder, here are a few other ways you can ensure birds visit your yard:

• Keep feeders and birdhouses clean: Wash feeders and clean out bird houses to give them a fresh start.

• Keep cats indoors: Outdoor and feral cats kill billions of birds annually.

• Landscape with native plants: Native plants can provide seeds and attract insects as well as provide shelter.

• Keep your yard a bit less tidy: Shrubby areas provide great covers for birds.

• Prevent bird strikes by putting up netting.

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