January 17, 2012

Feeding Birds in Winter

Winter has finally made its appearance in NH. Winter can be a difficult time for birds. The days are short, and nights are often cold and long. Water can be hard to find, and food needed to provide the energy to keep birds warm might be scarce - either having been consumed or hidden by snow. On cold, wintry days, most birds fluff up their feathers, creating air pockets, which help keep the birds warm. The more air spaces, the better the insulation. Some birds perch on one leg, drawing the other leg to the breast for warmth.There are times when birds are not prepared to deal with sudden drops in temperature or sudden winter storms. At times like these, it is especially helpful to have feeders full so that birds can find food easily.

 Feeders should be located out of the wind. The east or southeast side of a house or near a row of trees is ideal. It is best to have a perching spot such as a bush or tree for the birds to use to survey the feeding area and provide cover from predators and shelter from the wind and weather.

Suet is a great food to offer many of the birds that will visit backyards in the winter. Suet is a high energy, pure fat substance which is invaluable in winter when insects are harder to find and birds need many more calories to keep their bodies warm.  Peanuts are another great food to offer birds in the wintertime. Peanuts have high protein and fat levels. Black Oil sunflower is a great overall seed to offer in the winter. It has a high calorie/ounce ratio due to its high fat and protein content and its relatively thin shell. Oil sunflower has twice the calories per pound than striped sunflower.

One important thing to remember is that once you start a feeding program, to continue throughout the winter. Once the birds become dependent on your food sources, it will be hard for them to adapt to change if you suddenly stop feeding them.


TexWisGirl said...

all great shots. i feed plenty of sunflower, mixed seed and nyjer. we usually don't get too cold here (or stay cold for very long) so i avoid the suet (my dogs would be trying to climb trees!)

Ruta said...

My neighbors had bears visitng when they didn't take in their suet in the spring! :)

Chelle said...

Thank you for sharing this blog entry about feeding birds in winter. I’ve got to get cool new ideas and tips. Keep your posts coming! Will definitely read them all. ;)