National Bird Feeding Month
The colder temperatures, snow and ice take a massive toll on our bird population every year. Even during the more temperate seasons, our birds can suffer, with climatic changes affecting them—just as it affects our own everyday lives—as their food and water resources diminish and replenish in direct relation to the weather.
Backyard birds are an invaluable part of your local ecosystem, extending far beyond the simple enjoyment to be derived from watching their antics and hearing their songs.
- Watching birds and listening to their songs are fantastic ways to relieve stress, while the time spent outdoors to maintain your bird feeding stations gives you a good excuse to get some fresh air and increase essential-to-your-health vitamin D absorption. Make it a family affair!
- Many birds feast on insects, such as mosquitoes, aphids, spiders and others that are not welcome in your yard. Attracting birds to your yard can lessen the need for using family un-friendly chemical insecticides.
- Small songbirds, like towhees, finches and sparrows, gobble up weed seeds, making these birds an effective weed controller, feasting on the seeds of the most undesirable plants in your landscape and further reducing your need for chemicals.
There are environmental and wildlife conservation issues and educational opportunities for you and your children, as well as the increased curb appeal and higher property values that songbirds add, in the event you want to sell.
What are you waiting for? There are so many reasons to buy your first birdfeeder or to add to your collection of birdfeeders.
If you “build it,” they will come.
What type of feeders and what you put in those feeders will determine the types of birds you’ll attract. In the bigger scheme of things, you will have migrating birds and local avian residents scrutinizing your yard, so we recommend providing a variety of seeds, suet and nectar throughout the year, though right now we will concentrate on February, National Bird Feeding Month, and how to get started.
Some People Wouldn’t Recognize a Robin…
…if it landed right on their head. Amazingly true and somewhat sad, having a bird feeding station in your back yard can change all that. Putting a bird feeder up will result in your seeing birds you may not have even known were in your area. If you really want to learn to recognize and understand your new avian friends, we highly recommend The Backyard Bird Feeder’s Bible, not only a good way to get to know your backyard birds, but a fantastic coffee-table book. To get the kiddos more involved, you can pick up a copy of The Ultimate North American Birds Sticker Book. The pictures in both are fantastic!
Now, back to the business of feeding the birds. A good way to start is to provide one feeder for sunflower seeds or mixed seeds and one for the smallest seeds, like thistle. Black-oil sunflower seeds, safflower seeds and corn are the larger, and the most versatile seeds, attracting the larger birds, such as jays, cardinals, doves, woodpeckers and blackbirds, but also luring the smaller nuthatches, titmice, sparrows, chickadees and finches. Smaller seeds, such as Niger (thistle), white millet and milo, will more reliably attract finches, siskins, redpolls, doves, chickadees and sparrows, though you will also find larger birds arriving if the pickings in your area are exceptionally lean. All seeds can be fed in a hopper, tube or platform-type feeder, though some bird feeders are specifically designed for the type of bird you wish to attract and are better suited for a particular type of seed.
You will learn, with time, what works best for you and for your backyard bird visitors. The important thing is to get started. With this in mind, for first-time birders, we suggest your first birdfeeder be a Mixed Seed Birdfeeder. It is best to place it where it can easily be seen from inside your home so you can effortlessly monitor the food supply and more thoroughly enjoy the show. It should be hung or mounted about 5 feet off the ground and far enough away from branches or other help-mates, like fences, that would enable squirrels or other hungry, non-avian varmints from gaining easy access. A great solution to the problem of where to hang it, is to check out our window-mounted birdfeeders, bringing the show up close and personal, each birdfeeder having powerful suction cups to secure it right to your window. The kids absolutely love these feeders! And consider offering suet, a high calorie, high protein source of animal fat, that provides birds the extra energy necessary to keep warm and healthy during the nastiest weather. We have a feeder for that!
Don’t Forget the Water
Birds can suffer greatly when every little puddle is frozen or when a dry, cold winter has resulted in very little or no moisture. Providing water can be as simple as putting out a bucket with an edge to perch on, though most birds will prefer a place they can both bathe and drink. Yes, birds even bathe in the winter, though to watch them makes you wonder how they can possibly be enjoying that frigid water! We have a full line of bird baths, heated and not, that are designed to be carefree, attractive and bird-friendly.