The secret to getting birds to flock to your backyard feeder

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What greater joy can there be for those of us living in Fairfield County than to watch wild birds of all sizes, shapes, and beautiful colors gather around a home bird feeder, pecking at seeds while chirping happily. At a well-supplied backyard bird feeder, you’re likely to spot bright red cardinals alongside singing goldfinches whose feather colors change with the seasons.

But not everyone has luck attracting birds to their home feeders. Contrary to the saying, “if you build it they will come,” many birds won’t go to feeders that aren’t properly stocked.

Margaret Robbins, owner of Wild Birds Unlimited of Brookfield, backyard birdfeeding specialists, said people are often frustrated when few birds come to their yards.

“The number one reason for the lack of birds is the quality of birdseed being used,” Robbins said.

Birds expend a great deal of energy seeking nourishment, she explained, but inexpensive seed sold at supermarkets and big box stores, does not fit the bill. Cheap seed contains a high amount of added fillers which our birds won’t eat and is often stale and buggy.

Birds have a very high metabolism and need fresh seed high in fat and protein in order to maintain their health, she said. Stale, unrecognizable seed is often thrown out of the feeder onto the ground when the birds search for one good seed to eat. Uneaten seed on the ground can attract mice and other rodents.

“Consumers are wasting their money on stuff that will be pushed out of the feeder and onto the ground,” Robbins said.

Wild Birds Unlimited sells only birdseed blends and seeds, delivered fresh every week, made from 100% edible seed with no fillers. “Our seeds  are regionally formulated for the feeding preferences of the birds in our area. That means you only pay for fresh seed that will attract the kind of birds you want to see in your backyard,” she said.

Professionalism is the name of the game at Wild Birds Unlimited, where all the employees are Certified Backyard Birdfeeding Specialists, or as Robbins calls them, “Bird Nerds.”

A lifelong birder, Robbins previously worked for the National Audubon Society in Greenwich and is a specialist in bird biology and identification. Her son, Phil Robbins, of Redding, is an environmental biologist, and serves as the store’s manager.

“We treat all our customers like family,” she said. “They will not go home with a product that doesn’t work for them.”

In addition to quality seed, suet, nuts and other essential wild bird food, the store has everything needed to set up a backyard birdfeeding station. It also carries a wide variety of birdhouses and gift items for children and adults. The staff organizes frequent programs for bird and nature enthusiasts.

The store is celebrating its 10th anniversary in June in a big way and is holding special giveaways and sales each month until then. From June 9 -11 there will be raffles, refreshments, and over that weekend a live birds of prey visit. A program calendar is available on their website.

Wild Birds Unlimited is located at 317 Federal Road, Brookfield, just north of Costco on the opposite side. For more information, call 203-775-4888 or visit Find them on Facebook at Wild Birds Unlimited of Brookfield CT.