You might not see a “birds wanted” notice in
your local newspaper, but wild birds are already making decisions about which
backyards they will visit this winter. What you do as the days grow shorter
lets the birds know that you want their business and they have an open
invitation to come back when winter sets in.
People who don’t start feeding birds until
severe weather arrives may be missing out. Fall is the season to begin, even
though natural foods are plentiful and birds may not spend much time at your
feeder yet. They are out in the fields and woods, feasting on seeds and berries
and well-fed insects.
The birds that do visit feeders in the abundance
of autumn are scouting. They need to be ready when cold weather hits. Freezing
temperatures will increase their calorie requirements, right at the moment that
food becomes harder to get. Insects stop flying. Snow covers seeds. Ice seals
away tree buds, wild fruits, and the bugs that woodpeckers and nuthatches like
to find under the bark of trees.
Wild birds need to be prepared for the winter
ahead. They are studying their resources in advance. Noting where food is
available. Locating alternatives. Taking inventory of contingent provisions.
If wild birds discover that your yard is worth
visiting, they’ll remember. And when that first storm hits, they’ll show up.
Hungry. Chirpy and chattery. Red and blue and black-and-white and yellow.
On the other hand, if you wait until hard
weather arrives, birds may not ever know what you have to offer. Under the
stress of freezing weather, they can’t afford the luxury of exploring. They
must go where they know there will be a payoff. They might not find your feeder
all winter, even though it is abundantly supplied. So start offering provisions
foods to offer
Keep a variety of feeders stocked with black oil
sunflower seed, white millet, niger, safflower, cracked corn, and broken nuts.
Offer suet in hanging baskets, for woodpeckers and bushtits. Try some chopped
up fruits on a tray feeder.
There are many kinds of bird seed available at
garden centers and birding shops. While it may be tempting, it may not be that
economical to buy the “cheepest” seed mix.
According to the manufacturers of Cole’s wild
bird seed, if you want to attract more birds, what you put in the feeder makes
a big difference. If you use seed mixes with lots of low-quality fillers, the
birds will kick it out of the feeder onto the ground, picking out just the
choice tidbits to eat. Plus, using a high-quality seed without fillers will
attract more birds—and more kinds of birds—to your feeder. And that’s what it’s
all about, really. Most of us feed birds because we enjoy watching them.
is the time to let wild birds know they are invited to dinner—all winter long!