Hi there, my family put a bird feeder in our backyard this winter and we have enjoyed watching the birds (and squirrels) that visit. The last few days have been unseasonably warm and all of the snow has melted in our neighborhood. My husband filled the bird feeder yesterday and this sparked a good-natured disagreement about feeding our birds. Can you help?
I told my husband that because the weather was so nice, I wouldn't have put seed in the feeder. My reasoning being that without snow or rain that the bird would be able to find their own sources of food. We make food available when it is scarce naturally. (Plus, birdseed can get expensive, especially when the squirrels are raiding the feeder too!)My husband, on the other hand, thinks that the birds come to rely on our birdfeeder and we must keep it filled for them. Can you tell us which is the correct approach? Thanks so much for your time. AG
If you were ever thinking about bird feeding, January and February are actually the months that a backyard bird feeder can make a difference.
Typically, feeders serve as a supplemental source of food for birds in your yard. Fruit and nut bearing bushes and trees supply a natural food source as well as native flowers, such as coneflowers, black eyed Susan’s, and cosmos that are allowed to go to seed and stand through the winter. In the last couple months of winter the natural sources have gradually become more and more scarce and birds may switch to utilizing feeders to survive from day to day.
In fact February is designated National Bird Feeding Month because it's one of the most difficult months in the U.S. for birds to survive in the wild. In mid-Michigan the plants are still dormant and haven’t begun to produce new food for the birds and the bugs are still scarce.
Also, low temperatures force birds to burn up to 10% of their body weight in stored fat each night to stay warm, and this fat must be replaced every day.
Be sure to keep your feeders filled with the high-energy, high-fat foods that provide your birds with the crucial nutrition they need to survive. Studies indicate that Black-Oil Sunflower, Fine and Medium Sunflower Chips, Peanuts, White Proso Millet, Safflower, and Nyjer® Thistle are among the most preferred seed types. Please don’t waste your money on cheap seed. Cheap filler grains like oats, wheat and milo decrease the price per pound of a mix but aren't eaten by the birds and are left to rot on the ground.
And don't forget the Suet. It is the most concentrated source of energy you can offer wild birds. Our Suet is made with only the highest quality processed beef kidney fat. Special processes remove impurities that cause low melting points and spoilage problems.
Backyard bird feeding is an entertaining and educational pastime that can be enjoyed by children and adults. It provides a needed stress relief and brings families together. There is no designated time to feed the birds. Most people feed year round.
They watch the birds in the winter to brighten the long, dark, dreary days, and then watch the beautiful migratory birds that come in the spring all excited for nesting. Next comes watching the baby birds at the feeders demanding food from parents and finally the large variety of birds that gather after nesting to make the long journey south or to bulk up for winter again. Currently one third of the U.S. populations feed the birds in their yards.
Consider that the average wild bird weighs less than two nickels and you’ll realize that the winter can be a very punishing time for your backyard friends. Birds that come at dusk on a cold evening are hungry, and it's nice to make sure that they always find something to eat.