Songbirds and Backyard Birds Information

We believe one of the most supportive things you can do for local songbird and passerine populations is to provide clean drinking water.  Place water where there is none and check it frequently.  Don't abandon pails, buckets or trays and not return as we don't want to litter.  If you can provide *the appropriate kind of seed for wild birds* in feeders or scattered that is also a great thing to do.  If you live in a residential or urban area with domestic cats please only use feeders raised off the ground.  Scroll down to read which kinds of specific seeds are most beneficial for local wild bird populations and which ways they are best offered. 

A note on bird seed- our rodent population is also displaced and hungry- putting out seed may attract rodents (though they need our help right now too as all parts of the food chain have been affected and are essential to a healthy ecosystem). Keep feeders and seed as far away from your home as possible. Keep the ground underneath it clean and don't put out an excessive amount of seed, only as much that will be consumed each day.  

Since a lot of the native plants and sagebrush which provide nectar have burned, consider putting up hummingbird feeders.  Please do not use nectar with red dye.  We suggest making your own by first boiling water and mixing 4 parts h20: 1 part sugar.  Do not use honey.  Wait until the solution has cooled before filling the feeder.  *Hummingbird feeders need to be cleaned frequently in order to avoid mold which can make the birds sick and feeders should be filled consistently should you decide to commit to feeding hummingbirds.  If it is not a burden to them, buy a neighbor a bird feeder or hummingbird feeder. Buy seed, nectar and everything they would need for a few months.

While it is not advisable to seed wild habitat or property that interfaces with public lands, we do encourage you to plant native plants in your residential yard which can provide a natural diet to wild bird populations such as Toyon shrubs.  Visit this page to see a list of resources and information on which plants are native and beneficial vs. invasive.  

A note from local ornithologist and ORC board member Jesse Grantham regarding feeding songbirds and passerines:

"Supplemental food would be very helpful. Lots of issues that I won't take the time to go into here...but for seed eaters I use the Wharf Dove and Quail Seed, about $18.00 for 40 lbs. It's white millet, safflower, some wheat, some red millet, and a little cracked corn. I then buy a 20 lb. bag of sunflower chips (about $27.00+ which used to be the cast offs, it's now the expensive stuff) and mix that with the Dove and Quail. Lots of species will eat sunflower, particularly shelled, but not every body eats millet or safflower, since they would have to crack open those seeds and they don't have the bills to do that. (Some do, some don't, i.e. thrashers don't, but sparrows do) Scatter the seed under bushes and on the outskirts of trees and shrubs so they have cover to escape to if a raptor comes cruising by. Don't just dump it in a pile, or fill a feeder. That concentrates all the birds in one location...too much competition. Spread it out so every body gets a chance and less squabbling. Only put out enough so that they eat it all by the end of the day. Leftovers will attract rodents at night. I throw out seed several times a day, but only when it's all gone from the previous feeding. Water right now is key. I use a shallow cement bird bath, or one of those shallow square cement containers that you set an air-conditioner unit in when you don't want water running all over. I run a line of thin irrigation tubing from a spigot to a tree branch or other structures that lets a drop or two of water hit the pool in the container about 1-2 drops every 5 seconds. Birds need fresh water, not recycled water. I change the water every day."

How to identify your backyard birds:

Identifying your backyard birds can be difficult as they come in many shapes, sizes, and colors! All have distinct diets, and social behaviors. If you can invest in a bird ID book we recommend Birds of Southern California, and Field Guide to Birds of California, we also feature several local bird guides in our Raptor Store. We also recommend the apps iBird, Sibley Birds, and Raptor ID.

If you have photos of your backyard birds that you cannot identify and would like more information, you can email us at ojairaptorcenter@gmail.com.