Some people believe that feeding backyard birds is a messy process. If you have a similar view, consider the following neatness tips:
1. No “Wild Bird Seed Mix” allowed. Seed mixes marketing for wild birds are not regulated, and compositions vary widely. Often mixes contain too many inexpensive “filler seeds” and not enough of the seeds that Portland area birds really want—especially black oil sunflower seed, the hands-down favorite! Birds tend to toss seeds from a bird feeder until they find a favorite, so if your mix isn’t tuned for our birds a lot can wind up on the ground!
2. One Type of Seed per Feeder. Start with black oil sunflower seed in an elevated feeder. Try a nyjer (“thistle”) feeder for American Goldfinches and Pine Siskins. Place some millet and cracked corn in a ground feeder, since birds who like those seeds tend to be looking for food on the ground. Hang a suet feeder to welcome woodpeckers, Bushtits, and even parents teaching their young to forage.
3. Add a Seed-Catching Tray. A tray or seed-catching device below your feeder can catch seeds and hulls when they drop.
4. Try Sunflower Chips or Pacific No Waste. Pacific No Waste’s contents are appropriate for Northwest birds, with the bonus of no seed hulls and nothing that can grow below your feeder. Sunflower chips are black oil sunflower seeds with no hulls, so they can’t sprout if they wind up on the ground.