WORDS ON BIRDS
Plan Now for Winter Feeding
October 29, 2016
The change to
colder weather has brought changes in the birds as well. Most of the
shorebirds have migrated through the area and the hawk migration has
passed peak. Flocks of geese and cormorants can be seen overhead,
streaming their way south.
have to look much further than your own backyard to know that the
weather is bringing change. Just check your feeders. The male
goldfinches have lost their bright yellow and black coloration. They
are now donning a dull olive for the winter months. It reminds us
that we are approaching the eleventh hour for preparing our bird
feeders for the winter season ahead. So once again, I offer you some
tips to help with your preparation.
If you haven't been feeding the birds all summer, now is the time to
dust off those feeders, give them a good cleaning and fill them with
fresh seed. If you have been feeding all summer, now is a good time
to clean your feeders if you haven't done so recently. Wash them
with a ten percent bleach or vinegar solution to kill any bacteria.
Rinse thoroughly and let them dry completely before adding fresh
Now is also the time to assess
whether you need, or want, to add more feeders. A thistle feeder
will lure goldfinches and house finches. A peanut feeder will draw
woodpeckers, nuthatches, and tufted titmice. Sunflower and mixed
seed feeders attract the widest variety of birds.
Suet is eaten by many birds in the cooler weather including
woodpeckers, nuthatches, chickadees, and titmice. Now is a good time
to provide suet for birds to help build body fat for protection
during these colder nights. Woodpeckers, nuthatches, chickadees,
titmice, brown creepers and many other birds will appreciate suet.
There are many new feeders on the
market that are easier to clean. It is usually near the base of the
feeder where seed gets wet and moldy, so access to that area for
cleaning is critical. Both Aspects and Droll Yankees have tube
feeders that have bases that are easily removed for cleaning. Droll
also had a “Pull Ring” tube feeder that dissembles completely with
the pull of a rod - no tools necessary. Even Squirrel Buster and
some of the other squirrel-proof feeders disassemble easily for
cleaning. Keeping feeders clean, with fresh seed, is key to
attracting birds and protecting their health
You will want to place feeders where you can watch from the house
for the greatest enjoyment. Don't wait until the ground freezes and
we have two feet of snow to decide to put a pole in the ground to
place a feeder in front of your window. You can also hang a bracket
off your deck or porch to hold a feeder and there are brackets that
mount on the window frame and will swing and lock in front of the
window for close viewing. You will want to position feeders where
you can enjoy them from the comfort of your home and, also, be able
to access them for filling during inclement weather (and a few feet
Window feeders stick
right onto the window with suction cups to bring the birds right up
close. These window feeders, or ones hanging in front of the window
on a bracket, are the most convenient to fill in bad weather as it
can be done from the window. Some window and window sill feeders
have two way mirror glass that let you watch the birds while they
see only their reflection in the window. You can also purchase this
mirror film separately for any window feeders. These provides great
entertainment for children and cats!
Quality seed is an important consideration for your winter bird
feeding. Black oil sunflower has a high fat content that helps birds
store energy and keep warm. So if you choose a seed mix, chose one
that is high in sunflower, as that is the preferred seed of many
feeder birds. A little safflower will encourage cardinals while
white millet and cracked corn is enjoyed by juncos, sparrows and
other ground feeding birds. Juncos are already arriving so it is
time to start encouraging them to your yard. Thistle attracts
goldfinches and house finches, and other winter finches such as
redpolls or pine siskins might also enjoy your thistle during the
cold winter months.
fresh water becomes a scarce commodity in the colder weather so you
should consider a bird bath with a heater. Some bird baths have
built-in heaters with thermostats and are very energy efficient.
De-icers can be added to any bath to keep them ice-free for the
birds. Open water will draw all types of birds throughout the colder
months. Again, place the bird bath where you can view it from a
window if possible.
planning and preparation now will mean winter-long enjoyment
watching the birds in your yard from the comfort of your home.
Bird Watcher's Supply & Gift
Route 1 Traffic Circle
192C State Street
Newburyport, MA 01950
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