Helping Birds Survive Winter
Just as we rely on coats, hats and mittens to keep us warm in the face of winter's icy grip, birds employ a number of methods to survive the adversity of winter. But during extreme weather you can make a difference! We can play a vital role by supplying food and water that can mean the difference between life and death for a bird.
Food is the most essential element in providing birds with the energy, stamina and the nutrition they need. To stay warm, birds will expend energy very quickly, some losing up to 10% of their body weight on extremely cold nights. An ample supply of high-calorie foods is crucial to a bird’s survival. Click here for the list of birds that spend their winters in our area.
Offer multiple feeding stations so that more birds have greater access to food. In my yard I have:
- A large hopper filled with Choice Plus Blend that attracts all birds. It contains sunflower, nuts, suet and fruit - and yes I am seeing starlings at it, but ...
- I also have an Eliminator filled with Choice Blend that is set so that when starlings get on it the ports close, so only smaller birds (including cardinals) can eat from it.
- Next to my bird bath I have a covered ground feeder also with Winter Blend. I like the millet in it to attract the ground feeding birds that come here for the winter like juncos, white-crowned and white-throated sparrows (I hope they don't reconsider next year :)
- I have a Cylinder Feeder with a cylinder of Safflower that is at a third station. This cylinder is lasting for days and the Cardinals, House Finch, and even my Red-bellied Woodpeckers love it, but squirrels and Starlings don't.
- My finch feast on Thistle, one up-side down feeder (just for the gold finch) and one Quick Clean Nyjer feeder for all the other thistle eating birds. My juncos and mourning doves gather under the feeders to collect extras.
- My woodpeckers choose from 6 different stations of suet (attached to the trunks of trees, on the sides of my hopper feeder, and in hanging tail-prop suet feeders). These are filled with Simply Suet (again to keep away starlings and squirrels) and the Pacific Bird Woodpecker Suet that contains nuts and mealworms (this attracts a wide variety of birds, not just woodpeckers).
- I also have a Squirrel Buster Peanut Feeder filled with peanuts out of the shell. This is made by the same folks that make the Eliminator and it keeps out squirrels and starlings as well, but allows for my Carolina Wrens, Woodpeckers, Nuthatch, Titmice, Chickadees and even Cardinals to eat this high-fat, high-protein snack.
- And of course I feed my squirrels Wildlife Blend. I put it in an older feeder my dad made for me - but of course we have several squirrel feeders here to choose from!
- Today I am also hearing customers talk about the Bluebirds they are seeing in their yards, in bluebird houses and at feeders! They do start early looking for housing and they will use the houses to roost on especially cold nights. Customers that have them coming to feeders are feedingBark Butter Bits and Mealworms.
- And I have to give a shout-out to the crazy Robins that are here. This is an especially tough time for them and what complicates it for us is that they are not feeder birds. Your best bet is to scatter Bark Butter Bits and Dried Mealworms on the ground under trees and bushes.
Providing water is also important, even in weather like this! It could be as simple as putting a dish of water out every morning and night or stop by and pick up a heater for your bird bath or a heated bird bath.
After reading through this list you probably think I am crazy but my passion for birds is why I opened this store! Everything little thing you can do will help and we are here to answer any questions.
Take care. Stay warm and safe and most of all, enjoy your birds!
Monica & Staff