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Keeping Northern Illinois Songbirds Fed

Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco

Fall is just around the corner. Getting your bird feeding operation off the ground in the right way means careful planning.

First, before setting up any bird feeder, Richard Hentschel a horticulture educator with the University of Illinois Extension, says you have to thoroughly clean it out.

"That can harbor pathogens and disease and things like that. So they want to start out with a clean feeder," said Hentschel.

Next, Hentschel says you want to be pretty mindful about picking seeds.

"One of the considerations when we feed is what kind of seed are we putting out is a function of what kind of bird we want to attract," said Hentschel.

The best case scenario is to skip the general seed mixes and use specific seed types to attract specific birds. The general equation essentially comes down to smaller seeds for smaller birds and larger seeds for larger birds. For example, blue jays and cardinals are attracted to larger seeds whereas finches will go for the smaller seeds.

But Hentschel said it doesn’t end there, "Birds like to drink some water in the wintertime to everybody feeds, but nobody provides open water."

Lastly, Hentschel says to clean your feeders every two weeks. Hummingbird feeders need to be cleaned at least once a week.