About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Food & water from bird feeders can impact birds’ survival

The mild November and early December in mid-Michigan allowed birds to seek natural foods easily. Though it might seem strange to humans, wild birds prefer to forage over visiting feeders.

Last night, however, the natural food sources may have become covered with snow or locked in ice. If this ice sticks around for 2 or 3 days, birds can starve to death. When ice coats the seeds and berries in the wild, the birds can’t eat them. At those times, bird feeders are often their only source of food available.

When it’s especially cold, birds flock to feeders to build up their energy reserves. A seed blend with black oil sunflower seeds and peanuts is great to offer in the winter. It has a high calorie/ounce ratio due to its high fat and protein content. At Wild Birds Unlimited that would be our most popular WBU No-Mess Blend or WBU Choice blend.

Suet or seed blocks are great foods to offer many of the birds that will visit backyards in the winter. Suet is a high energy, pure fat substance which is invaluable in winter when insects are harder to find and birds need many more calories to keep their bodies warm. I would recommend our peanut butter suet.

Your feeders serve only as a supplemental source of food for birds in your yard except during cold, long, severe winter weather. So today your birds may be utilizing them as the critical source of food that enables them to survive the day.