My first bird food was Cracked Corn.
Yep, way back when I was a 10 or 12 year old boy.
I used mom's old hand crank meat grinder to grind up those hard kernels.
Cracked or whole it's a cheap bird food. Often it is offered to ground feeding birds like quail, doves, juncos jays and a host of other ground feeding birds.
Squirrels and chipmunks will eat it as well as long as there is nothing better to eat like sunflowers and peanuts.
Maize has a long history.
Its origination is Central America.
Scientists figure that Native American Indians first started to cultivate it or its predecessor (Teosinte) more than 7,000 years ago.
Corn as we know it is a cultivated crop only. It cannot grow wild.
The native people learned how to plant in squares of several rows as opposed to one long row.
They learned quickly about pollination and hybridization to increase their yields.
Husks and leafs were used to make baskets, mats and other useful items.
Now, if you don't know how these golden kernels pollinate it is very simple.
The tassel is the male part of the plant. This is where the pollen is.
The ear is the female and every silk is a female organ waiting to be fertilized.
By planting in a block, you are more assured of pollination then if planted in a long row as it is pollinated by the wind only.
As the Indians immigrated, they took it with them as a main stay in their diet.
Many of the foods we call as Mexican like tacos and tortillas come from Indians in Central America and the Southwest United States.
Birds learned to glean fields and pick the leftovers and to clean up as it was being ground into food.
It is a high energy food, very rich in starch. 72 percent starch that is converted into energy.
It lacks protein, however. On average the corn we feed our birds and livestock has an 8 percent volume of protein.
There is 4 percent fat and a low 2 percent fiber content.
Birds are able to convert the starch to energy and fat, but still require more protein in their diets.
Most birds will eat corn if that is all there is to feed on. I know, when I was feeding them cracked kernels, we had all sorts of birds.
Several low end bird feed mixes are filled with cracked "Maize" to drive the price down.
While it is a viable bird food, it is not high end.
Yes, I feed the cracked stuff all year round.
I toss some of the cracked kernels on the ground near shrubs and under trees. Ground feeding birds are on it most of the day.
This also keeps sparrows away from my feeding stations.
What the birds don't get, the rabbits will.
A little bonus for you the uneaten particles act as a pre emergent herbicide. The gluten kills off weeds seeds as they germinate.
God provides for all of nature, sometimes he even uses us to help out.
Starting next week, you can get your weekly 'Gardening For Wildlife' newsletter.
Be sure to sign up below.