Feeding the birds is an enjoyable and easy hobby, but it doesn't have to be an expensive one. No matter what your budget, it is possible to offer a nutritious backyard buffet that will attract a wide variety of hungry birds.
8 Easy Ways to Save Money When Feeding Birds
Despite their small size, birds can have hearty appetites and may go through a lot of seed in just a short time. Birders with tighter budgets can take several steps to save without stopping feeding altogether, however…
The easiest step of all is to find the best local price on birdseed. Grocery stores, garden centers, wild bird supply stores and even home contracting stores may all have birdseed for sale, and their prices can vary considerably. Check flyers for weekly sales and stock up when seed is available at a good price.
Buy in Bulk
While a small bag of birdseed may have a cheaper price than a larger bag, the per-pound price is usually quite a bit higher on smaller bags. Buying larger bags means there is less need to stock up frequently and seed is always available on hand, but do not buy so much that the seed may rot before it can be used.
Choose Quality Seed
Sunflower hearts or premium mixes can cost more, but they offer a better value for feeding backyard birds because no seed is tossed aside or wasted because birds don't want it. Less seed can be offered at once but will still feed the same number of birds, making each bag of seed last longer.
Look for Loyalty Programs
Many wild bird stores or garden centers offer loyalty programs for regular customers. These programs can take several forms, and a common option is to earn a free or discounted bag of seed after a certain number of purchases. This can be a great choice if the store offering the loyalty program also frequently has the lowest prices on seed overall.
Slow Down Refills
Just because a feeder is empty doesn't mean it needs to be refilled right away. Letting feeders stay empty for a day or two will not only make bags of seed last longer, but will encourage backyard birds to forage under feeders and clean up any spilled seed so there is very little waste.
Offer Supplemental Foods
While foods like bread, crackers or cookie scraps should only be offered as very rare treats, other options such as leftover vegetable scraps, bruised fruits or bits of cooked rice can be offered sparingly to stretch a bird feeding budget. Eggshells are another great food to offer, especially for extra calcium during the nesting season.
Many birds eat insects, and bugs are a great source of protein for growing hatchlings or molting adults. Minimizing backyard pesticide use will keep bugs available for birds to eat, and backyard birders won't be spending as much money on chemicals – leaving a few extra dollars available for even more birdseed.
Grow Your Own Birdseed
Sunflower seed is not only one of the best seeds to offer backyard birds, but it is also amazingly easy to grow. Cut off mature sunflower heads and allow them to dry at the end of the season, and they can be offered to birds as a healthy treat. Other seed- and nectar-bearing flowers, berry bushes, nut trees and fruit trees are also great food sources for birds.
No matter what your budget may be, there are easy ways to save on birdseed and still enjoy feeding your backyard birds.