Document Type



backyard birds, bird feeding, supplemental feeding


Although seed preferences of species that visit bird feeders have been well documented, we know little about feeder/seed combinations most appropriate for attracting highest species richness or increasing abundance of individual species. I studied how the species composition of birds visiting a feeding station was influenced by addition of feeders filled with mixed seed, thistle, and suet in a yard that previously contained only a feeder with sunflower seeds. Addition of a seed mixture consisting of hulled sunflower, hulled peanuts, hulled millet, and hulled "tree" nuts in an elevated platform feeder increased species richness and total number of birds visiting a feeding station. Presence or abundance of Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus), Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata), American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos), European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris), Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis), and House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) increased when the seed mixture was added. Presence of White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis) increased when thistle seed in an elevated feeder was present. Addition of a "Peanut Treat" suet cake in a single-cake capacity, wire-cage increased species richness, and presence or abundance of Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens), and Hairy Woodpecker (P. villosus) increased when "Peanut Treat" suet was added. Results indicate that the combination of feeders/seeds placed within a yard influences species composition. These results can be used to make more informed decisions on how to attract species of birds of greatest interest for viewing.

Publication Date

June 1999

Journal Title

Journal of the Iowa Academy of Science





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© Copyright 1999 by the Iowa Academy of Science, Inc.



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