Cheap Food For Fancy Birds

In our central Florida back yard, we look forward to hosting Painted Buntings and Indigo Buntings for a few months each year. 

Typically we see our first Painted Bunting some time in the fall (some previous first-of-season dates are 9/4/20, 10/22/19, and 10/23/18). The visits are sporadic at first, but starting around the first of the year, we have several individuals visiting on a daily basis. They stick around through April (some recent last of season dates are 4/28/20 and 4/24/18), so they'll be leaving us soon. 

Regular visits from Indigo Buntings begin around the first of the year, as well, and they also leave in April, but we usually expect them to leave a bit earlier (in 2020 our last sighting was on April 17).  

 

I'm not sure exactly why we have been so lucky with attracting Painted Buntings and Indigo Buntings to visit us with such regularity and in pretty good numbers (up to 10 individuals of each at a time!), but I know for sure what they like to eat -- the cheap stuff!

Both buntings chow down on millet blends served in simple plastic tube feeders. At their peak, the bunch of them will completely empty our three feeders in about two days. I always find it kind of funny that these knockout beautiful birds like such simple, otherwise undesirable food.

We try to time our stock of millet to the departure of the buntings, because once they are gone, our resident summer birds won't show much interest and we'll switch to offering more waste-free type seed blends, plus shelled sunflower and safflower.

Wild Bird Food for Feeding Buntings

Found on Amazon

When shopping for bird seed to feed Painted and Indigo Buntings, don't worry about getting premium blends, no mess or no waste foods, or seeds that come with extras like fruits and nuts. If you find a cheap "wild bird food" at your local hardware, grocery, or big box store, chances are it will look a lot like this one from Kaytee -- heavy on the cheap millet. This is what we offer our buntings.

Tube Feeder for Painted and Indigo Buntings

Found on Amazon

We have some premium hanging tube feeders, but when a squirrel was able to damage one (we accidentally, temporarily let the closest shrubbery grow too close to the feeders) in the middle of bunting time, I looked for something affordable to replace it quickly. This plastic tube feeder is super simple but its held up perfectly for the last four months and I would not hesitate to recommend it. It's about as easy to clean as any other tube feeder and it offers six ports, all of which are used by buntings at times.

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