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Can you help me identify a bird I saw in my yard?  We can try, but you would be best served in the long run by purchasing a good field guide and looking it up yourself.  Nothing like the joy of being able to identify a bird by sight. Soon you'll be one of those Audubon experts who can pick out a bird zooming by or tell you what it is just by ear. Those guys and gals are my heroes. Speaking of Audubon types, they are probably your best bet for bird information. Just look online to see if a chapter of the National Audubon Society is in your area. You can either call them or email them. They have no greater joy than to be able to share their knowledge of birds with you. If you still need to ask, please give us a good description of color, size, and where you saw it. (ie.  not in your backyard, but Northern Illinois) We'll do our best, but if we can't answer or answer wrong you promise you won't laugh at us too much.

We found a baby bird which seems abandoned. Can you tell us how to take care of it? My first suggestion is that you make sure it really, truly is abandoned. Chances are Mom or Dad are lurking in the distance somewhere just waiting for you to get away from their baby.  My second suggestion is that you keep a stiff upper lip and just leave the bird alone. Third, ask the local Audubon society if they know of anyone who is trained and experienced in rearing baby birds in your area. Fourth follow their advice religiously.   Sadly every effort we made to save abandoned or injured birds failed. We just couldn't come up with enough insects and seeds in the right doses.

What kind of seed and feeders do you use? Black oil sunflower seeds make up the bulk of the seed we offer the birds. We buy a mix of millet seed and black oil sunflower seeds, thistle seeds and suet cakes. We also make our own sugar water for the Hummingbirds and Orioles. We were buying safflower seeds but stopped when no one would eat them. The hardest part is finding a good quality, reasonably priced source for seed. We tend to stay away from the cheaper seed because it's usually full of all kinds of garbage and seeds the birds won't eat to save their lives. Also if you open up a bag of seed and find moths, cobwebs, and frass (dust which is made up of insect droppings) by all means take it back to where you bought it and demand your money back. It's the best way of determining the veracity of the seed store and packager. If they give you grief or excuses I wouldn't buy the brand again and I'd no longer shop at that store. With suet cake we tend to stick with ones that have ground nuts or sunflower hearts in them. We take a pass at the triple berry delight and bubblegum flavors which are offered. (?)
    We also put out things like table scraps and old bread (not moldy) and have found out the birds will eat just about anything. (Except, the new formula for Trix cereal, that's okay we didn't like it either.) We often put out halved oranges which we hoped would attract Orioles, but never did. Instead we found that BlueJays absolutely love them and will have gang fights over them. The Red bellied Woodpecker also picks at them once in a while.
    When we first started feeding the birds here in our yard we used an old board which we set over a broken bird bath and we later added another board which we laid on the ground. The birdies loved it just as much as they do our overpriced regulation feeders we have today. Now we have a thistle seed tube feeder for our army of Goldfinches. Two tube feeders which we use for sunflower seeds. A sunflower seed feeder. One platform feeder on legs which we had to rescreen to hold small seeds, and a platform feeder minus the legs that lays on the ground. Finally we have lots of suet cake feeders of the wire variety. (Every time we bought the expensive wood ones the Raccoons had them destroyed by the next morning.) Speaking of Raccoons, squirrels and chipmunks we've yet to buy a feeder that kept them from helping themselves to our seed or suet.
    On a final note I'd like to warn everyone new to this hobby that it isn't cheap. First the birds can literally eat you out of house and home and it can become almost addictive. Second IMHO the sellers of seeds, feeders and any paraphernalia concerned with bird feeding are generally overpriced and just cashing in on the popularity of the hobby. (Ah but ain't that America) The key is to shop around you'll soon learn whose out to make a quick buck.
   Most important and almost forgotten. Do your best to keep your feeders, bird baths, and feeding area squeaky clean. It's good for the health of the birdies and for your health as well.

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