By Holly Latteman, Conservation Project Manager

Thanksgiving is a holiday filled to the brim with great food and company, but what about our feathered friends? While we are filling our bellies with cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie, consider placing a bird feeder in your yard.

A variety of different bird feeders are on the market today, but how do you know which one to purchase and what to fill it with?

  • A hopper or “house” feeder is a common multi-purpose feeder. A wide variety of birds will visit this feeder such as, northern cardinal, blue jay, carolina chickadee, tufted titmouse, house finch, white-crowned sparrow and white-throated sparrow.
  • A tube feeder is another choice and a favorite of our smaller birds such as house finch, white-crowned sparrow, white-throated sparrow, and carolina chickadee.
  • A thistle feeder is a tube feeder with smaller openings designed for thistle or nyjer seed. This feeder will attract american goldfinch and house finch.
  • A ground tray feeder is a favorite of the ground feeding species such as mourning dove, dark-eyed junco, and eastern towhee.
  • A suet feeder is a preferred choice of our woodpecker and bark gleaning species. Birds such as red-bellied woodpecker, downy woodpecker, red-headed woodpecker, white-breasted nuthatch and northern flicker will readily consume suet.
Photo credit: Sonny Ponn

Photo credit: Sonny Ponn

We have many different pies at Thanksgiving; pumpkin pie, apple pie, cherry pie, and pecan pie. Just like our wide variety of pies, the options for bird seed and suet are vast. How do you choose the right one? First, decide what type of feeder you are filling and what you would like to attract.

  • Black oil sunflower is a fan favorite and will guarantee the most variety of birds, and what you will find in our bird watching garden. This seed can be used in hopper, tube, and ground tray feeders. Most of the winter birds in Ohio will take advantage of this high energy treat.
  • Thistle or Nyjer seed is another high oil content seed that will attract finches. Due to the small size of this seed, only use this in a thistle or nyjer seed feeder. This seed also has an expiration date much shorter than any other seed, purchase and use this seed within six months.
  • Suet and Suet dough are a woodpecker’s favorite option. Suet originates from cow and pig fat, and is commonly mixed with a wide variety of seeds and flavorings. Suet dough is made with lard, peanut butter, and corn meal. Suet is a great high energy treat in the winter but beware it will melt in the summer months. However, suet dough is a no-melt option for the warmer months.

The birds are sure to love these options almost as much as I love pumpkin pie! From all of us at The Dawes Arboretum, Happy Thanksgiving , we are thankful for your continued support of our mission!