Food, glorious food

Mealworms were in short supply earlier this year, but Wild Birds Unlimited has them now.

I bought a tub of 500 mealworms on Friday, and put a couple of spoonsful of them in the mealworm tray — complete with a little roof — on my deck.

I know the chickadees will be pleased, although as far as I can tell they haven’t discovered the mealworms yet.

So this is my present menu for birds that choose to come to my backyard:

  • SAFFLOWER. I always have safflower. It’s in a tube feeder and a tray feeder.WHAT’S EATING IT — Mostly chickadees, house finches and, I think, a pair of purple finches. It’s going slowly, which is OK. Safflower isn’t cheap.
  • NECTAR. The nectar (a home brew: four parts water, one part sugar) is in an oriole feeder and a hummingbird feeder. WHAT’S EATING IT — Nothing but insects. A lone hummingbird was feeding regularly until the crabapple trees and lilacs blossomed, then it left me.
  • GRAPE JELLY. It’s in the oriole feeder, watered down for bird consumption. WHAT’S EATING IT — A house finch, or possibly a purple finch, is a big fan. Last year, a couple of catbirds thrived on the grape jelly. I haven’t seen them yet this year, but I’m pretty sure I’ve been hearing a catbird in the neighborhood.
  • NYJER. Nothing is eating the nyjer (aka thistle), a contrast to the winter when I couldn’t keep up with ravenous redpolls. I had three nyjer feeders out then, just one now. A couple of weeks ago a cluster of some sort of finches briefly went after the nyjer, then they quickly disappeared.
  • SUET. I don’t usually have suet out in the summer. I took the suet log down, but I’ve got a suet cake hanging in a place that discourages squirrels and frustrates starlings. WHAT’S EATING IT — A downy woodpecker and/or a hairy woodpecker; sometimes I have a hard time telling them apart. They come several times a day, but never stay long. The starlings still try to get some.
  • MILLET. This is going fastest. I spread a little out on the deck and a little in a tray feeder each morning. WHAT’S EATING IT — At least one pair of chipping sparrows. Oddly, I haven’t had any other kinds of sparrows in my yard so far this year. The chipping sparrows are consistent visitors and fun to watch. Pigeons get some, too.

What are you feeding the birds? What are they eating? Your bird observations and pictures are always welcome at

6 thoughts on “Food, glorious food

  1. I have orange slices (real ones) out for some Baltimore orioles who are visiting the plate often. Also have grapejelly but have not thinned is in a dish and they seem to be eating it anyway. Have hummingbird feeder up plus an oriole feeder both with liquid sweet mixes in them.
    I wish I could afford to feed all the foods you have listed! (retirement stinks financially) Maybe next winter if I go without something else myself. The birds are worth it!
    My daughter in law used to attract bluebirds with mealworms.

  2. Hey John,
    I have to say that my chickadees really like those mealworms, too. I have one, don’t know if it’s the same one each morning or not, that lets me know at 5am when I am making myself coffee and toast I really should be putting out his worms. He will sit on the feeder and sing his little song to let me know he is there and expects to be fed. They really are very smart little fellows.

  3. John, I can take you to bluebirds. There are tons of them up by my cabin up in Alden township. I also saw a rose breasted Grosbeak this year. I have pictures. Where do i send them?

  4. I put out everything you do, John, except for mealworms. I’ve been thinking about giving them a try, but haven’t yet. A couple of items I put out that you don’t are sunflower seeds, peanut parts, peanuts in the shell, cracked corn, and oranges. The sunflower chips are the mainstay of the birds diet. All the species like the sunflower seeds. The peanuts in the shell are for the blue jays, who will come to the window feeder over and over, until they are gone. The peanut parts are for the woodpeckers, nuthatches, and chickadees. The cracked corn is for the mallards, morning doves, and crows. It also seems to help keep the deer away from the feeders. The oranges are for the orioles, but they have visited my yard only twice so far this year. I also put millet out for the ground feeders, but like you the sparrows aren’t visiting my backyard in the numbers they have in years past.

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