What Seed To Attract Birds? Handy Tool

As part of their Project FeederWatch program, The Cornell Lab has a handy online tool to help backyard birders determine the best foods to attract common feeder birds

You can use filters to narrow your bird search by region, as well as food type and feeder type. As Project FeederWatch focuses on watching birds in the winter, and winter is the peak season for backyard bird feeding, the region filter uses the winter range for the birds.

As expected, black oil sunflower tops the list for many seed-eating birds. But other popular seeds are featured, and some birds prefer safflower or hulled seeds to the obvious favorite. Of course, other foods like nuts, fruits, corn, and even nectar may also attract birds to your yard. Check out the tool, plug in your location, and see how you can best attract desired species to your yard.

Binocular Review: Jesoumer 10x42 Roof Prism

Jesoumer's 10x42 binoculars are affordable, lightweight, and come with some handy accessories. I had the chance to review a complementary pair that was sent to me by the manufacturer. 

Manufacturer Specifications

More Specifications (as determined by reviewer)

  • Weight (without strap & ocular lens cap): 556g
  • Closest Focus: approximately 15 feet

According to the Amazon product page, these binoculars were developed during the COVID-19 pandemic for watching wildlife close to home during quarantine. In the end, I had the most fun using these binoculars close to home, in my own back yard. Here's my review.

USE IN THE FIELD

Out of the box, these lightweight starter binoculars feel good in the hand. I strapped on the neck strap with rainguard and took them out to Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive, my local patch Gemini Springs, and my backyard.

Jesoumer 10x42 binoculars in the hand

At Lake Apopka, I used them to look over wetlands and marsh habitat on a bright, sunny day. The 10x magnification allowed me to identify Ospreys in far away trees and distant vultures on the wing, but I noticed some distortion around the outside of my view, especially at the furthest distances. For affordable binoculars like these, I was not surprised with the fair quality of view. It is my understanding that the quality of view relies heavily on the coatings used on the optics; more expensive binoculars use different coatings on the various lens pieces inside the binoculars (read more about this here: optics coatings explained).

I found the focus knob to be responsive without feeling too tight or too loose. They were comfortable to hold and I was happy with the amount I could fold the barrels together for my close-set eyes.

Jesoumer 10x42 binoculars front view

On a very hot and humid Florida morning, I paid special attention to potential fogging issues while checking out the birds at my local patch. In this regard the binoculars performed very well and I didn't have any issues with internal or external fogging.

INCLUDED ACCESSORIES

These binoculars come with a neck strap, separate protective cover for the ocular lenses (rainguard), built-in lens caps for the objective lenses, carrying case, and a universal smartphone adapter for digibinning.

Jesoumer 10x42 binoculars with box and accessories (neck strap not shown)

Integrated objective lens caps

The included neck strap is average, with a rough feel that would probably soften after more use. The binoculars are very lightweight so it might not be an issue, but personally for every day use I would consider substituting a different strap for more comfort. The included case is also average. For me this is also a seldom-used accessory for any binoculars. The rainguard (ocular lens cover) fits and works well and was easy to install when I attached the strap to the binoculars.

The built-in objective lens caps are pretty neat. At first I thought they would be a pain to remove, but they pop in and out easily, and, importantly, didn't pop back on inadvertently while I was using them. With my daily use Swarovskis, which have separate lens covers that hang from a strap from each lens, the caps sometimes find their way back onto the lenses, and I don't notice until I start using them again and part of my view is obstructed. 

Smartphone photo taken through binoculars

I had the most fun using the binoculars with the smartphone adapter. At first it was a bit awkward to get used to, and I had to remove the charging case from my iPhone, but after a while it became easier to use and I'm sure with repeated use it will feel even more natural. I was pretty pleased with the first test photos I took.

I think this accessory could be very useful in the field, saving one from carrying a separate camera. It could be handy to use for documentary shots.

Smartphone photo taken through binoculars

PROS

  • Affordable
  • Lightweight
  • High Magnification
  • Built-in Objective Lens Covers
  • Fun Smartphone Adapter Accessory

CONS

  • View Distortion, Especially at Long Distance
  • Average Accessories

RECOMMENDATION

These are attractive and affordable binoculars for beginning birders looking for something with high magnification and a low price tag. Considering their light weight, professional look, and included accessories, I would also recommend them for kids. I can imagine the novelty of the smartphone adapter for taking photos using the binoculars could be a way to get kids interested in learning more about birds and other wildlife, in the back yard and beyond. 

I received this pair of Jesoumer 10x42 binoculars for free from the manufacturer. The words in this review are all my own.

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Writing partners Brian David Gilbert and Karen Han, popular on social media, delighted and confused birders with this surreal video. What do you think?

Floating Bird Bath Raft

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 – See more in Wild Bird Seed

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 – See more in Bird Feeders

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.