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, January 5, 2013

More birds at the feeder this year!

Hi, I live in rural Jackson county- the doves, the sparrows and an occasional cardinal and blue jays are just attacking my feeders.  I need to refill them daily – also have noted that lots of doves (I love doves) easily 20 of them are waiting in my trees to eat - this seems unusual this year. Is it due to the wacky weather we had in the spring, summer and fall?  Thanks for answering. 

Your question is exactly the reason everyone should participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) the third weekend in February each year. The data collected can be invaluable. Canada’s natural seed crops were horrible this year and lots of birds that usually like to winter further north are going to have venture south to Michigan to find food. Based on reports from a few years ago, you can see that when we had a similar influx of birds from Canada and the UP looking for food in our area, feeder activity was up.

More birds from up north, mild fall weather, and fewer natural resources available means more birds are looking for alternate sources of food. When it’s especially bad outside, seed eating birds flock to feeders no matter where you live to build up their energy reserves.

Your habitat may also be changing. More evergreens may mean more sparrows and doves are roosting nearby. Or look at the food you are offering. Sunflower is the favorite of most seed eating birds, but seed blends with more millet will attract more sparrows and doves. Suets and peanuts will attract more bug eating birds like the jays, woodpeckers, chickadees, titmice and nuthatches.

Wild Birds Unlimited has regionally formulated seed blends to provide the most nutritious food for your birds. The first ingredient in our top 4 seed blends is sunflower seed. And our top two blends have peanuts in the mix. Make sure cheap filler grains like oats, wheat and milo are not in the seed blend you choose because you will end up with a lot of waste on the ground.

Food is an essential element, providing birds with the energy, stamina and nutrition they need. An ample supply of high-calorie foods such as black oil sunflower, nuts and suet can be crucial to a bird's survival.

Water is also important. My birdbath is always busy in the winter with a variety of birds. To maintain their metabolism during cold weather, birds like a reliable source of open water to conserve energy. Clean feathers help birds stay warm, and a bird bath is often the only way for some birds to drink and keep their feathers in top condition when it’s cold.

Clean down feathers can be adjusted to create air pockets, like a down jacket. While the outer body feathers lie on top of each other, to create an airtight windbreaker. Research has shown that a chickadee with well-maintained feathers can create a 70° (F) layer of insulation between the outside air and its skin.

Thanks for your question.

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