2016-01-21 / Nature

Backyard Birding Offers Window to Nature

By Jack Kelly


A tufted titmouse feeds on suet cage. 
(Photos by Jack Kelly) A tufted titmouse feeds on suet cage. (Photos by Jack Kelly) Windows into the mysteries and majesty of the natural world are as close as your favorite neighborhood park, local wildlife sanctuaries and refuges, or even your own backyard. It is estimated that over 20 million Americans maintain bird feeding stations on their property, allowing for hours of avian observations and identifying species attracted to the food. Many backyard birders share their hobby with children or grandchildren, passing on their knowledge and love of nature.

Starting a feeding station is relatively easy, as many local retailers carry bird feeders and the necessary food. Tips from successful birders include placing feeders in a sheltered southeastern exposure, close to trees, shrubs, and bushes where feeding songbirds may es cape, in the event of a predator attack; keeping feeders clean to avoid the spread of disease; and maintaining a freshwater drinking supply nearby. Different types of seed and suet will determine what types of birds are attracted to feeders. It is best to talk with an experienced backyard birder before selecting seed to determine which species are known to frequent your area.


Downy woodpecker. Downy woodpecker. Organizations including the Norman Bird Sanctuary and the Audubon Society of Rhode Island will provide information and tips to prospective birders at normanbirdsanctuary.org or 401-846-2577 and asri.org or 401-949-5454. Families looking to create their own feeders and water containers will find project guidelines on a number of online arts and crafts sites.



A black-capped chickadee. A black-capped chickadee.

A male downy woodpecker (denoted by the patch of red plumage on his nape) feeds on suet and peanut seed. A male downy woodpecker (denoted by the patch of red plumage on his nape) feeds on suet and peanut seed.

Jack Kelly, a native Newporter, is a wildlife photographer and nature enthusiast who enjoys sharing his experiences with others. Jack Kelly, a native Newporter, is a wildlife photographer and nature enthusiast who enjoys sharing his experiences with others.

Return to top