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Wild Birds in Winter and how you can help!

Have you ever wondered how birds stay warm through the cold winter months?  Birds of all sizes have special ways they adapt for living in our cold winter months. Here are a few examples:

  • Shivering - Just like people birds will shiver to stay warm

  • Fluffing Feathers - Insulation matters, putting on weight and preening\fluffing feathers keep them nice and toasty

  • Roosting and cuddling - Similar to people birds will gather in groups to build body heat.

  • Tucking Feet and Bills - Birds will pull their legs up into their bodies or sit on them to keep warm.

How Can you Help?

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  • Buy large birdfeeders so you don’t have to fill them so often. Wet seed can grow harmful bacteria, so use feeders with wide covers.

  • If deer, or other pests, invade your feeders, hang them up higher in trees.

  • Place feeders 10’ away from dense cover to prevent sneak attacks from cats.

  • Provide multiple feeders to increase amounts and diversity of foods.

  • “Favorite” winter foods depends on the species. Black Oil sunflower seeds are loved by most birds, but niger, millet, peanuts, corn, and wheat will attract a diverse range of birds. Experiment and see what comes to your feeders.

  • A combination of beef-fat, with seeds or fruit, is called suet. It is a high-energy food which helps birds stay warm. The 4” cakes are placed in small cages and are loved by flickers, woodpeckers and many other birds. Peanut butter is also relished by birds, but is more expensive than suet.

  • Once birds find your feeders, they will rely on them for regular food supplies. If your feeders become empty, especially during ice storms or blizzards, birds will have a hard time finding natural food. If you take a trip, have a neighbor keep your feeders filled.

  • Buy extra seed and store it in a cool, dry place like a covered plastic trash can which can be kept on a deck, porch, or in a garage.

  • Make sure the feeders are kept clean with hot water, and then dried, about once a month.

  • Some birds, like juncos, towhees, doves and pheasants prefer eating seed which has fallen to the ground. Compact the snow below your feeders so they can find that seed easier.

  • Unless you live near a natural water source, place a pan of water near a feeder on warmer days. Or you could consider a heated bird bath to provide drinking water.

  • If you have fruit trees or berry bushes, leave some of the fruit on the plants to provide natural foods.

  • You may wish to leave birdhouses and nest-boxes up all year for winter roosting sites.

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