Forest Preserve District of Cook County, Illinois
Nature Bulletins
Newton Home Page

Introduction and Instructions

Search Engine

Table of Contents



Bird-Feeding Boards
Nature Bulletin No. 92   November 16, 1946
Forest Preserve District of Cook County
Clayton F. Smith, President
Roberts Mann, Supt. of Conservation


If you want some fun, set up a feeding place to attract the song birds which live here all winter. Now is the time. The simplest device is a board or a piece of plywood nailed on a window sill. It should be at least 12 inches wide and 24 inches long, set endwise, with a strip of moulding around the edge to keep the feed from being knocked off. If there are any trees close by, the birds will soon find it and, all winter long, you will have the thrill of watching them at close range. You may even photograph or sketch them.

In residential sections where there are many trees and shrubs, and particularly near parks and cemeteries, you may expect to have titmice, chickadees, juncoes, nuthatches, blue jays and sparrows flitting to and from your feeding board. You may even have a cardinal, a robin, a downy woodpecker or a hairy woodpecker. Each kind of bird behaves and feeds differently, and among each kind are individuals quite different from the others. Some become quite tame, others are nervous and wary. Some are gold and greedy; others are shy and dainty.

Birds need proteins and fats to keep them warm in cold weather. They like fat-rich seeds: particularly sunflower, hemp, millet, and cracked nuts or corn. Scatter a cupful of such seeds on your board as often as needed. At one corner place a lump of suet the size of your fist, fastened down with a nail to keep the blue jays from carrying it away. This will also attract the woodpeckers although they prefer it on the trunk of a tree where it should be enclosed in a container of hald-inch wire netting to foil the blue jays and squirrels.

Make a stiff dough of uncooked oatmeal and cornmeal mixed with a cup of heated fat drippings. Mold this into a ball and press it firmly onto another corner of your board. All birds seem to relish this and will peck at it vigorously. In very cold weather try a lump of unseasoned raw hamburger. Experiment. You will learn many interesting things. Keep a bird diary.

Feeding is fun.

To return to the Nature Bulletins Click Here!
Hosted by NEWTON

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (, or at Argonne's Educational Programs

Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Sponsered by Argonne National Labs