‘The birds are starving, the birds are starving’. At least it seems like it, as they devour the contents at their feeding stations. Winter is not an easy time for our backyard feathered friends, as their natural food sources become scarce and adequate shelter is in high demand. Their only goal is to maintain body heat during the cold temperatures.
We can assist them by providing high caloric food sources such as black oil sunflower seeds, suet, peanuts and nuts. If the peanuts and larger nuts are chopped, the smallest birds will also partake in this high protein energy rich food. Suet in the winter can also be shredded or cubed and placed in various feeder types. Nyjer can be placed in a mesh sock but must be covered to keep it from becoming contaminated with mildew. White millet is a starchy seed and a favourite among ground feeding birds.
Are your wild backyard birds fighting for seed with the local squirrels or being hunted by the neighbourhood cats? By incorporating squirrel feeding stations in other parts of the yard, this may reduce their pesky interference at the bird feeders. Also using feeders that are squirrel resistant or squirrel proof, such as the Squirrel Buster, will help in discouraging them from the bird food. Cats can also be detrimental to the backyard bird population, as they wait to ambush unsuspecting birds near the feeding stations. Place the feeders near natural cover, in case there is a need for the birds to fly to safety, but far enough away so it does not allow hunting felines a place to hide.
Clean feeders on a regular basis to prevent unhealthy feeding conditions that could escalate into something more serious, such as a disease amongst our feathered friends. Store the bird seed in a dry area not accessible to rodents or insects.
In sub-zero temperatures, use a bird bath de-icer in the bird bath. This will allow the birds to have access to fresh water, which is just as important as food on a cold winter day. Most types of bird bath de-icers can be used in various types of bird baths including plastic, concrete or ceramic.
Providing shelter can be as easy as having coniferous trees such as spruce, pine or a juniper. These offer protection from the winter winds and cold temperatures. Having roosting boxes available also offers protection from the elements.
Wild backyard birds provide us with entertaining antics, various songs and do need our generosity in providing a safer and easier winter lifestyle.