Backyard Chirper

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Tips for feeding birds affordably

Suet bird feederWith the price of black-oil sunflower seeds soaring and ornithologists reminding us that birds hate cheap bags of birdseed, there’s a growing concern that feeding wild birds is getting too expensive. Since it’s nearing the time of year when birds actually benefit the most from eating at bird feeders, here are some tips for feeding birds while not breaking your pocketbook.

1. Plant native wildflowers or sunflowers

A great way to provide nourishment to the birds in your yard is to plant your own wildflowers or sunflowers. Not only are these more natural, but you also won’t have to keep buying bags and bags of sunflower seeds. This will also spruce up your yard while making it the perfect destination for an array of birds looking for a meal.

2. Try a variety of bird food, not just sunflower seed

While black-oil sunflower seeds are probably nutritionally the best for certain birds, others enjoy different or cheaper types of food. For example, bluebirds love mealworms while grackles and quails love cracked corn. Peanuts are another alternative to attract birds like sparrows, doves, cardinals and more.

3. Give certain table scraps to the birds

You obviously don’t want to feed your backyard birds only table scraps, but in the winter when food becomes scarcer table scraps are a great option. You can also supplement some of their regular food with a few table scraps. Some good scraps to give your birds include potatoes, over-ripe fruit, cheese, egg shells, old cereal, crumbs of baked goods and more. However, remember to clean up after the birds have eaten everything they want or you might get some unexpected visitors as well.

4. Buy in bulk

When you buy wild bird food in bulk, you’re more likely to get a better deal and save more money.

5. Ration the amount of food you give out

Another less desirable way to be more frugal is to ration the amount of food you give out. When your feeder runs low, you might wait a little longer to refill it, though you should keep in mind this sometimes keeps birds away.

6. Make your own bird treats

Just like those times when you were young and made pine cones smeared with peanut butter, you can make your own bird food for cheaper. For example, you can make your own suet from bacon grease and other things like raisins and peanuts.

Timothy Martinez Jr. is a writer and freelance journalist. His work has been published in The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, Remapping Debate in New York City and other publications. He’s been a bird lover since he was young and currently lives in New Orleans, L.A.


  1. I keep trying to Google can I feed roasted shelled peanuts out of the shell by the way… To the birds… Man they all woodpeckers chickadees tit mice blue jays etcetera etcetera love the little peanut pieces but they’re so expensive I can’t afford them anymore… Can I buy unsalted roasted peanuts for them? That’s all I want to know lol actually… I have a many other questions but this is my biggest one I’m running into Kroger now haha… Thank you to whomever on whoever comments

  2. I live in Gladstone, Queensland Australia. Near the Tropic of Capricorn.
    I feed the local Magpies and Kookaburras Chicken heart. $3. Half kilogram. Very little fat. Plenty of vitamins. They love it.

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