Feeding the birds is a fun activity and can result in great sights as well as some surprising benefits for your lawn and garden. It can get pricey though, and when things get tight, it may be among the first extras to get cut from the budget. Birds aren’t as picky as we are though. A lot of the costs associated with feeding the birds come from buying them fancy houses or making their feeding area look pretty. While it is important to keep bird feeders and areas clean, birds don’t care if they are eating in a wanna-be Barbie house or off of a stump of wood. Here are some tips for feeding the birds on a budget.
Choose the Right Bird Feeder
The biggest initial cost of bird feeding is the feeders themselves. According to manufacturers, birds need cute little houses to rest in and a plastic flower to make them feel comfortable enough to eat in front of people. But birds were just fine before we made them little condos. When we get down to it, feeding them at all is more for our benefit than theirs. We don’t really think birds need cutesy feeders; we just like things in our yards to be pretty.
We could always just get a piece of wood to hang and slather some peanut butter on it, but that isn’t the only option. It is possible to make a cost effective bird-feeder that is not an eye-sore. See what you have around. Milk cartons, cans, or even just random raw materials can be used to make a container for birdseed. You can also use paints or things you have around to decorate.
Consider how you can create a baffle to fend off squirrels. This will prevent them from scaring birds off and make your food last longer. You can find many affordable feeders at retailers and online. There are tons of designs to choose from, and they don’t have to be expensive. Be sure to choose a feeder that is environmentally friendly and will hold up to weather and use. You can make food last longer by installing a tray beneath the bird feeder to catch food that birds drop. You can pour it back into the feeder later, saving a bit of money by simply reducing waste.
Buy in Bulk
It’s common knowledge that buying in bulk saves, but only if nothing goes to waste. The deal with bulk is that you pay less per unit (ounce, pound, whatever measurement). If you just wasted those units, that money was wasted too. You can often find large bags of bird seed at farm stores. Be sure you’re aware of the different variety of seeds the different birds in your area like. If you’re doing this, you might as well make sure you’re getting your avian visitors.
Make Your Own Bird Food
There are many ways to make your own bird food. You can combine different types of seed in order to provide an attractive mix. Sometimes individual types of seed are cheaper separately. Birds need fat and protein like anyone else, especially in the winter. Peanut butter is a choice among birdfeeders, but peanut butter can be pricey. Another option is suet. Pure suet is fatty tissue from around a cow’s kidney. Suet mixtures are the melted form of this, mixed with pretty much whatever you like, and then formed into a ball or cake to fit in your feeder. If you can’t get suet, you can use lard or shortening. Depending on your relationship with your butcher, suet can be an affordable option.
What’s cheaper than buying your food? Making it yourself, of course. The same goes with bird feed. After all, wild birds eat in nature. They’ll eat nature if it’s in your yard. Providing berries, sunflowers and their tasty seeds, and seed and nut trees will make your yard the place where the cool birds fly in no time. You can also use this as an opportunity to work on the landscaping of your yard. There’s no reason that it can’t be a beautiful paradise for people and animals alike.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask
Scraps can be a good source of nutrition for birds, but be sure that you don’t use foods that have too many preservatives or additives; the more natural, the better. The best thing about scraps is that they are just what you or others didn’t eat. They cost nothing. This being said, you can ask others, especially businesses, for their leftovers. Explain that it is for feeding birds, and people will probably be more than happy to help.
There are a lot of options to make bird feeding an enjoyable activity that doesn’t break the bank. The more effort you invest, the less money you will have to. So keep that in mind, go out there and have fun. Happy Birding!
Ernie Allison loves nature. More specifically, he loves birds and wants to teach others how to appreciate them, too. To help further this mission, he writes for the bird feeder provider, birdfeeders.com