I grew up on a beautiful piece of land with woods and a lake and animals. Birds, squirrels, ducks, geese, chipmunks, lizards, raccoons and rabbits. And my mom loved everyone of them. She went through 10lb bags of birdseed and corn in a week feeding all the critters. The more she fed them, the more they expected to be fed and the more friends they brought to feed. We joked that they ate better than the rest of the family. :)
Well, when I got married, we got a house in suburbia so I don’t have as many critters. But I have invited birds to my back porch. I have two simple wire cage suet feeders. They hang on my back porch railing right outside my kitchen window.
I enjoy having the birds to watch. Especially in the mornings when I’m fixing breakfast and packing lunches. :) But suet can be expensive and the birds go through it FAST. (reference above where I mentioned when you start feeding them they start bringing friends!)
I have a frugal way to feed the birds that also helps me minimize food waste! If we have bread that has gone stale (loaf bread, buns, bagels, etc) I spread a thin amount of peanut butter on them and sprinkle birdseed on them. I look at the dollar stores for a 3-5 lb bag of basic birdseed. (Nothing fancy, no corn, sunflower seeds or peanuts) You can usually get a bag like this for $2 or so and it will last a looooong time. I put my bread/peanut butter/birdseed treats in the suet feeders. The birds love them! (I especially get a lot of cardinals.) They eat the seeds, peanut butter and bread!
This is great to let the kids do too! And if you don’t have the wire suet feeders there are other ways to do this. One is the pinecone feeder. String some yarn or ribbon around a pinecone, spread peanut butter on it and coat with seeds (or crushed cereal). Hang up outside and enjoy watching the birds!
If you have stale bagels, you don’t need the suet feeders either. You can string some yarn through the hole. To make them go even further slice them in half from the top (making them thinner but still leave the hole intact. Spread peanut butter and top with birdseed.
One word of advice – if you have the bread feeders out and you get a lot of rain, you’ll have to take them down or clean out the suet feeders because they will mold.
Some birds (like orioles) also enjoy oranges. Slice in half and set outside on a porch railing, stump or flat rock.
I would definitely plan on doing this with the kids while they are out of school for the summer! You can get them The Kid’s Guide to Birds and challenge them to identify as many birds as possible! (What a way to keep them busy for an hour or two!)