With winter upon us it’s important to feed our feathered friends. It’s not as easy for the birds that do stick around for the winter to find food as it is in the summer. In general, don’t prune back any perennials that have seed heads such as Coneflowers, Asters, Ornamental Grasses, etc as these become valuable food sources for the birds.
Another important thing to maintain is your bird feeders. If you have bird feeders you have our in the fair-weather months, the birds learn to rely on them and will continue to rely on them for the winter months. It is important to regularly stock your bird feeders with seed to keep the birds full, not to mention coming back to your property for some fun bird watching.
One thing we do not want to feed to the birds visiting our yards especially water fowl, is bread. While we often think that by ‘throwing bread to the birds’ as a way to dispose of our stale bread that we are helping our feathered friends we are actually doing them a disservice.
Feeding bread to the birds provides the birds with food that is of no nutritional value, encourages the birds not to scavenge for their own food, encourages birds who would normally migrate to not migrate in the winter months and can actually cause death in some species.
Bread, when ingested by ducks and other water fowl and then followed by water, can actually cause the bread to expand and suffocate the bird. Other alternatives to bread are halved grapes, frozen peas and bird seeds.
Here are some things to consider when selecting bird seed:
– Blue Jays will feed on full peanuts (i.e. peanuts in the shell)
– Woodpeckers will feed upside down, hanging suet cake holders upside down will encourage woodpeckers to feed there
– Cardinals like sunflower seeds and prefer to be fed at a fixed feeder at a height of 5′
– Chickadees like Safflower seeds as do some Woodpeckers. Bonus – squirrels do not!
By keeping an eye on what types of birds regularly visit your yard you can develop a “feed list” of seed to purchase to keep the birds coming to your yard.
Enjoy our feather friends!