Reading ingredient and guaranteed analysis information can help you make good choices when feeding wild birds. (Eric Moore/Courtesy)

There is no question that what we eat affects our health. Better health is a natural byproduct of eating foods that have a higher nutritional value. This is true for all living organisms, not just humans.

As a nature lover, and as a life-long birdwatcher, providing nutritious wild bird food is important to me. So important that I have personally created all of the recipes for the bird seed blends we sell in our store. All of our custom seed blends are mixed right here in Prescott every week by the good folks at Yavapai Exceptional Industries.

I look at feeding wild birds in the same way I look at pet ownership. I am confident that most people who own a dog or cat do not buy the cheapest dog or cat food they can find. I have the same philosophy when it comes to feeding wild birds. Instead of feeding the cheapest bird seed — with a bunch of filler ingredients — I feed seed ingredients that are healthy and nutritious.

Inexpensive bird seed and suet is full of filler ingredients — ingredients that most wild birds won’t eat — and most of it ends up on the ground. I encourage you to read ingredient labels when you buy wild bird products. If the seed (or suet) has milo, wheat or cracked corn, I suggest buying a different product. Do it for the birds.

For more than a week now I have been enjoying visits from an adult male cardinal at my platform tray feeder. Prior to this time, I think I have only had a cardinal in my yard on two previous occasions — once in 2018 and once in 2020. It appears ‘my’ cardinal likes the custom seed blend I’m using — a blend that includes premium ingredients and no fillers. Feeding better quality bird food will result in a larger variety — and a larger quantity — of birds visiting your feeders.

In autumn, many of our customers take down their hummingbird feeders and replace them with suet feeders. Many of our winter birds love beef-based suet with ingredients such as peanut butter, chopped peanuts, dried mealworms and crickets. This past week I’ve had both yellow-rumped warblers and ruby-crowned kinglets at my suet feeders.

When I was a child (50 years ago) I would go to the meat counter at our local grocery store and ask the butcher if I could get a few chunks of beef fat from the bone barrel. Back then they were more than happy to oblige, and would send me home with a small package of beef fat — free of charge!

I would simply hang the fat in a mesh bag (like what onions are sold in at the grocery store) and the birds would eat the fat. Getting fat from a bone barrel is no longer an option, so now there are many companies that manufacture suet cakes for wild birds. These cakes come in many varieties. Again, it is important to read the ingredient label, paying attention to the fat and protein percentages. Your birds will thank you!

Our 13th annual Wild Bird Photography Contest exhibit opened on Friday Oct. 1st. You are invited to come to the store to enjoy the wonderful collection of pictures, and to vote. All of the voting is done by our customers. You may vote for four of your favorite pictures. The last day to vote is Tuesday, Oct. 26, and we will announce the winners at noon on Saturday, Oct. 30.

Until next week, Happy birding!

Eric Moore is the owner of Jay’s Bird Barn in Prescott, Arizona. Eric has been an avid birder for over 50 years. If you have questions about wild birds that you would like discussed in future articles, email him at