Feeding the Birds this Winter

Photo: audubon.org

Photo: audubon.org

Feeding birds during the winter months is popular for many throughout the country. Not only can you enjoy watching the birds daily at the bird-feeder, but you are proving these flying friends with nutrition and energy during the cold, snowy months when food is difficult to find.

If you are thinking about hanging a bird-feeder this winter, here are a few tips to help make your bird feeding experience a success.

Choosing Your Birdseed
* There are two main variations of sunflower seeds including black oil sunflower seeds or sunflower hearts, both high in fat content. Black oil sunflower seeds contain a thin shell that can be easily broken by most birds. Sunflower hearts have no shells, so they leave less mess, but should be fed in small quantities at a time as they can easily spoil. Sunflower seeds attract chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, finches, cardinals, and sparrows.
* Safflower seeds have a much harder outer shell and are difficult for some birds to open. They are more suitable for attracting slightly larger birds including mourning doves and cardinals.
* Thistle seeds are thin seeds great for attracting smaller birds including goldfinches, pine siskins, and redpolls.
* Cracked corn is a high content of carbohydrates, but can easily spoil and should only be offered in small amounts. It attracts house sparrows, jays, and doves.
* Suet is high in energy and fat and is perfect for insect eating birds including woodpeckers, chickadees, titmice, and nuthatches.

Choosing and Placing Your Bird-feeder
When picking out a feeder, it's all about the birds! You want to choose a feeder that will not bring harm to these magnificent critters. Your feeder should be easy to clean to help prevent the spread of disease. You also want a feeder with good drainage and a covering to prevent the seed from becoming wet. If your seeds become wet, empty the feeder and wash it with soap and water. Remember that a feeder with any sharp points can be harmful to the birds, so instead choose a design where birds can comfortably and safely perch.
When placing your bird-feeder, you want to make it accessible to you and the birds. Choose a spot where you can easily re-fill the bird-feeder but is also safe for the birds. Don't place it too close to the windows to avoid any fatal collisions. Your feeder should be within 12 feet of a brush pile or other covering to make sure that the birds can easily escape to protection nearby.

The FRNC's winter birdseed sale is now underway. If you are interested in purchasing birdseed through the organization, please return the order form to FRNC by Friday, February 3. Birdseed will be available for pickup beginning Friday, February 17th.

Contact Jeni Vogel at jenivogel@ryenaturecenter.org with questions.

—-Jeni Vogel, Associate Director of Preschool & Camp