Bird feeding is a wonderful thing, is it not? As winter draws near, many birds become more and more likely to visit your home feeding stations, but this time of year also presents some challenges to feeding our feathered friends. With a few simple tricks you can keep them fed and your feeders safe.
While bears are getting ready to rest for the winter, they can still be out and about looking for high-energy meals to add extra fat for the months ahead. Make sure that if you have any tasty high-fat food in your feeders—like sunflower seeds or peanut butter sticks—that you bring those in at night to keep hungry mammals from tearing them down when you aren’t looking!
When placing your feeders for fall and winter, avoid windy spots or places where snowmelt might drip on them—birds will avoid these cold areas. Have trees and bushes nearby to allow birds to survey the area before landing, and make sure you have a good window nearby for watching!
Here at Shaver’s Creek we use black oil sunflower seeds, peanut butter, thistle, and suet—all of which provide great sources of fat and calories for our flighted visitors to pack on some winder chub to stay warm. Since many songbirds are quite small and have very fast metabolism, this is especially helpful to them. If you’d like to make homemade suet, check out this website: http://www.the-artistic-garden.com/blog/easy-homemade-bird-suet-recipe.
Throughout the birdfeeder season, there are also some important steps you can take to prevent the spread of disease amongst birds coming to your feeder. Try to keep the feeder area tidy, being sure to periodically rake up fallen seeds, husks, and bird droppings on the ground. When refilling the feeders, knock out any loose or clumpy seeds still left at the bottom. At least every two weeks you should scrub out your feeders with warm, soapy water. These steps will help stop mold and bacteria to take hold in and around your bird feeders.
Don’t forget that the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Project FeederWatch (http://www.birds.cornell.edu/pfw/) begins in early November, so sign up now if you want to participate. We’ll let you know what’s coming to our feeders here at Shaver’s Creek in future blog posts!
For more information on bird feeding tips, including how to keep your birds safe from windows, cats, and avian predators, visit the Project FeederWatch page “About Birds & Bird Feeding” at: http://www.birds.cornell.edu/pfw/AboutBirdsandFeeding/abtbirds_index.html
A good fall and winter for the birds is of course a good one for a birdwatcher as well! Happy birding!
~ Edward “Billy Goat” Sinnes, Fall 2012 Environmental Education Intern