Make Winter Fly By With Birding
Did you know that small birds can lose up to 10 percent of their body weight in a single frigid night? Even worse, food and water are hard to come by. If you decide to start a little songbird love, commit to stick with it. As your little friends discover your hospitality, they will come to count on it. Sudden stops of support can be deadly – if you will be gone for several days, load up the resources or have someone stop by for a refill.
A Winter Buffet
Replenish your buffet in the morning and late afternoon, when birds need to restore their energy. If you have a spot out of the wind, all the better. A simple board placed over a window box can serve as a “charcuterie” tray. Consider a ground tray and a hanging feeder – some little birds eat off the ground. The more variety you include, the more species you will see!
- A bag of wild bird seed is always welcome
- Add high calorie foods, even though they aren’t straight from Mom Nature, like bread or even pastry.
- Suet chunks (of course). Look for the hanging kind to keep rodents from stealing.
- Cooked potatoes
- Soft, mild cheeses
- Cracked corn
- Chopped apple, orange, pear
- Chopped unsalted peanuts
A Winter Home
Most stores have simple, inexpensive nest boxes. Secure them to a rail or buy a shepherd’s hook. You can even gather a group of friends for a fun afternoon of painting your nest boxes before putting them out. A coat of protective shellac or varnish can help your art last in the elements. Add hay, yarn or pet nesting material inside the box for extra warmth.
A Winter Sip
Access to drinking water presents an obvious challenge in sub-freezing temperatures. A heated bird bath is great, if you are able to put the effort into getting it and have a spot in your outdoor area near your feeding and shelter area. If you use a heated bath, fill it with rocks so that they don’t get soaked. The winter goal is to keep them drinking, not bathing.
If you are relying on a non-heated source, simply commit to placing hot water out and checking it during the day and evening based on the temperature.