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Attracting Birds

Bird feeding is a great way to enjoy the outdoors from the warm indoors during the winter. On any day it is so cheering to look outside, whether you are kept indoors by weather, age or infirmity, and watch all the activity at a feeding station. It is a pursuit that can be enjoyed by young and old, novice or experienced birder. For the most enjoyment, position your feeder where you can see it conveniently. If there isn't a tree branch handy, use a shepherd's hook in the ground, a clamping device on a deck rail or a hook screwed into the eaves right outside a window. There are even small suction cup feeders that attach to glass. The best way to start birding is with a platform or hopper feeder stocked with a no-waste mix like our Johnson's Gardener's Choice.

Johnson's Garden Center carries some of the highest quality bird seed that will attract your favorite birds all year long. Some good basic seeds and the birds that like them are:

Everyone wants to attract cardinals, but don't be too picky about what birds find your feeder at first; it takes a while for them to locate and get use to a new feeder. A second option is a tube feeder filled with our Choice Finch Mix. This mix contains niger (thistle) and small sunflower chips to lure woodpeckers, chickadees, wrens as well the the goldfinches and pine siskins.

Black Oil Sunflower - the single most popular seed - cardinals love it, so do finches, bluejays, chickadees, and squirrels
Gardener's Choice - a no-mess, no-waste mix appealing to all the above birds as well as sparrows and doves
Safflower - a good choice for cardinals, doves and song sparrows (squirrels and grackles don't like it)
Niger - gold finches, pine siskins, doesn't draw squirrel like the finch mixes if that's an issue
Peanuts (in shell) - blue jays go crazy for these, just put out a few as a special treat
Premium Wild Bird Mix - all pupose mix, the seeds will sprout under feeders in warmer weather
Suet - rendered beef fat for insect eating birds like woodpeckers. wrens, nuthatches

There are other specialty feeders and seed available as well as squirrel proof feeders and feeders just for squirrels. As you are setting up your feeding station don't forget water. An open source of thawed water will bring in as many birds as food in freezing weather; this can be accomplished by using a bird bath warmer. Shelter is also important so after Christmas recycle your Christmas tree as a brush pile for birds to roost in. Come by any of our three Johnson's locations and let us help you set up your own wildlife observation station.

Attracting Birds in the Summer

Summer is a great time to attract birds to the garden. The winter visitors have gone and those birds that winter in warmer climates have come back to raise their young. Of course our year-round residents are busy raising their own broods. Many people put away their feeders in the spring. But the reason you feed birds at any time of the year is to enjoy them up close, not because they can’t take care of themselves. So, keep those feeders full and think about adding a couple of new ones to attract a wider variety of birds.

Everyone’s favorite bird of the summer is the hummingbird. While attracting hummers in Wichita is not as easy as in Colorado or Missouri, it is possible. One of the most important things to offer hummingbirds is a natural source of food—nectar from tubular shaped flowers. Some favorites are penstemons, salvias, fuchsias, honeysuckles, trumpet vines, abelia, buddleias and campanulas. Hummingbird feeders are great for getting the birds closer to your favorite window for a better view, however feeders alone are not a guarantee they will stop by. Hummers are always looking for food, shade, water and nesting sites.

Another nectar-feeding bird is the oriole. Orioles will come to many of the same flowers as hummers. The nectar feeders for orioles are usually orange in color and have larger feeding ports.

Don’t forget about the friends that stick around all year. Continue to offer them a quick meal. Also, maintain a fresh source of water. The birds really need water during hot, dry spells.

Helping Birds in the Winter

During the winter months it is easy to forget about our feathered friends who spend the cold months scavenging to find adequate food and water sources. Keep your bird feeders filled with no-mess bird seed blends. Also, remember it's often difficult for them to find substantial water sources. If you've got a bird bath on your patio, keep an eye out to make sure it doesn't freeze. We offer several varieties of bird bath heaters that will keep their water warm, and available for consumption.