South Charlotte

For Charlotte bird lovers, it’s time to put out food

The fall bird migration into our area has begun; it’s time to start feeding birds so they are ready for winter.

According to the National Bird-Feeding Society, more than 55 million Americans feed birds, making it our second-most popular hobby, behind gardening. The National Audubon Society states that more than 100 North American bird species are dependent on the birdseed, suet, fruit and nectar we feed them to supplement natural diets.

“Bird food is between 65 and 75 percent of our business,” said Laurie Horne, owner of Backyard Birds in Matthews Festival Shopping Center. “Our feed is grown and bagged by the Amish in Rittman, Ohio. We feel as if quality feed helps bring the best variety of birds to your yard for viewing enjoyment.”

Horne, who grew up in Alaska, has always been an avid birder.

After moving to Charlotte more than 20 years ago to work for Belk Stores, she continued her bird-feeding hobby. Before she knew it, she was feeding every bird that flew into her backyard. She needed lots of feed to keep her feathered friends satisfied.

As a longtime customer of Backyard Birds, she finally decided that her love of birds and retail experience were a perfect fit for a career change. In 2013, she bought the store from late store founder Roger Ford’s children: Jason Ford and Cari Mull, who both still work at the store.

Horne has suggestions on how to achieve successful fall and winter feeding.

“If you don’t have a quality feeder, invest in one,” she said. “Bring your existing feeders in, clean them up and make sure they are in good repair.

“If you don’t have a birdbath, provide a shallow water source for the birds. Hanging birdbaths are convenient and work well. And be sure to get good quality and diverse food to attract all kinds of birds to your backyard.”

For those new to bird-feeding, a bird-seed mix makes it easy to attract an interesting group of birds.

Ford said that whatever food is chose, storage is an important concern. “Freshness makes a difference. Throw out uneaten seed from the feeder every couple of weeks or so,” he said.

One last variable in feeding birds is squirrel management.

Ford said squirrels can be a huge nuisance to people who feed birds, but technological and design advances in baffle systems and feeders are showing promise.

“If you put a baffle on a squirrel-proof feeder and pole, and position it 10 feet away from anything that a squirrel can jump from, it works very effectively,” he said.