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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Fill The Bird Feeders and Enjoy the Show

Keeping the bird feeders full during the cold season may seem an unnecessary expense, but there is great satisfaction in watching all the activity, and it is difficult to watch hungry birds flutter around empty feeders. On brutally cold days or when the forecast is calling for snow, those feeders will be emptied before nightfall.

The feed we use consistently is black oil sunflower seeds. These nutritious seeds are a powerhouse of needed fat and protein for a variety of birds. On snowy days, there is a constant flow of activity from cardinals, bluejays, mourning doves, titmice, black-cap chickadees, sparrows, juncos and finches. Nothing is wasted. Any spillage of seed from the feeders themselves is soon cleaned up by those birds who don't usually perch at a feeder, such as the mourning doves.

I add a bit of what is called Flyer's Choice which is a combination of sunflower seeds, safflower, and white millet. Don't bother with the inexpensive feeds with red millet. The birds often just bypass it and knock it out of the feeder. I used to mix cracked corn with the feed for the ground feeders, but stopped because I just attracted more starlings, who then cleaned me out of suet.

Finches love niger or thistle seed which is best offered in thistle feeders which allow them to feed upside down or from a thistle sock.

Suet blocks are very appreciated, especially by woodpeckers and nuthatches, who are so pretty to watch skimming up and down the tree trunks.

If you supply food, try to offer a water source as well. The heated bird bath pictured was purchased from The Garden Supply catalog, but most likely they are offered at any good farm supply store or nursery. You'll need a power outlet, but what is convenient is that this bird bath is made of heavy duty plastic yet isn't that heavy. Therefore, you can move it from wherever you put it in your gardens for the summer months to a place supplying power for the winter. The cord wraps neatly inside the stand when not being used. Birds don't like deep water so I keep a rock in the middle of the bowl for them to have a solid perch. Plus the weight helps keep the bowl from tipping on a windy day.

If you have cats and let them outside, try to keep your cats inside during the busiest feeding times, which are in the early mornings and at dusk. Once birds sense danger they are less apt to visit your stations.