If you like feeding the birds, but can no longer afford it, do something else that they will appreciate: put out some water! Dry summer days are difficult for birds.
Even in winter, birds need open, unfrozen water to drink. The easiest way to provide water is with a bird bath, but you can make a simple, inexpensive one by putting out the bottom catch-tray of clay flower pots. The ceramic coated ones are best as they will hold water the longest.
Fill the tray with water and place it in your yard or on a ledge near trees so that the birds can perch near-by and after drinking, hop back to safety. Also put some other over-turned trays or rocks in or near your water source so that the birds will have a ledge to stand on while drinking. If you can afford a dripping fountain, this is good because the fountain makes dripping sounds that let the birds know where water can be found. Otherwise, just over-fill the dish and let it drip for a while until the birds discover where it is.
Inspect the dish from time to time to be sure that the water is clean. To prevent disease, empty it every day, especially if it gets leaves, old feathers, debris and algee. A safe cleaner to use is the "non-scratch" scouring powder. (The one with the "little chick" on it that has no harsh dangerous chemicals.)
When it comes to watching the birds in action, there’s as much fun watching them drink and splash as watching them eat bird seed--and there's a lot less expense.
Copyright 2011 Patricia Hilliard