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.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Why feed birds in the fall

More Colorful Birds - Birds have a varied diet and the best way to help them develop brighter plumage is to create a habitat with lots food high in fat in protein in the fall. Most backyard birds go through only one full molt a year in the fall. They replace their tired old feathers with a new set that will last through the next winter, spring, and summer. Feathers are made of more than 90% protein, primarily keratins, so every molting bird needs extra proteins to grow strong feathers for proper flight and effective insulation.

The Northern Cardinal, one of the most colorful birds in the area undergoes an annual molt in the late summer at which time males acquire their plumage coloration for the following year. Right now they are eating wild fruit seeds, weed seeds and buds from a variety of trees. At the feeders they are looking for nuts and sunflower or safflower seeds. Their new feathers don’t come in bright. The tips of the new body feathers are brown/gray and make the cardinals appear a bit dull or more camouflaged in the winter. These dull colored tips wear off in time to leave them more colorful for breeding season in the spring.

Territories are forming - Birds are staking out their winter territories right now. Young birds like chickadees and titmice find new territories to hook up with other young birds at the end of summer and join local adults to form winter flocks. If you are feeding a good birdseed blend you will attract lots of birds that will remain in the same general area for the rest of their adult lives.

Personal Experience - I have noticed that the longer I feed, the more birds I get passing through in the spring and fall. Each year it’s exciting to see new faces mixed in with my regular visitors during migration. I always make sure I have fresh water, food, and shelter to make their journey a little easier. A recent study found that migratory birds are finding fewer areas to use as their rest stops.

Types of Feeders - New easy to clean and easy to fill feeders are also being developed every year for seed, suet, bug, or nectar eating birds. With over 30 years of research and experience, Wild Birds Unlimited® is proud to offer the highest-quality birdfeeders and birdfeeding equipment on the market today. It is recommended that you clean your feeders once a month to keep your birds healthy. These new feeder designs are so simple to wash, maintenance is a breeze. And of course most of them are made in the U.S.A and come with a lifetime guarantee.

Variety of Food - Regardless of the season, the bird species you attract is determined primarily by the seeds you offer. To provide the most beneficial foods to meet birds' nutritional needs, the birds in Michigan should be fed fresh Black-Oil Sunflower, Sunflower Chips, White Proso Millet, Safflower, Peanuts, Nyjer® Thistle, nectar, mealworms, or suet.
Avoid purchasing seed blends that contain milo, oats, wheat, canary, flax, rapeseed, and rice. These filler seeds found in cheaper blends will be kicked out of the feeder and can leave a dangerous moldy pile under your feeders.
Wild Birds Unlimited No-mess Blend is our best selling blend. It has everything the birds want and leaves no messy shells behind. For more info on our unique No-Mess Blend bird seed which features seeds that have had their shells removed so only the meat of the seed is left, click HERE.
Whatever seed, seed cake, or suet you choose at Wild Birds Unlimited, we guarantee it will be fresh and a healthy choice for our local birds.
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