Thursday, February 5, 2009

Home & Hearth: Feeding the Birds

Be as a bird perched on a frail branch that she feels bending beneath her, still she sings away all the same, knowing she has wings. ~Victor Hugo

Birds have a tough time during cold, harsh weather, especially when the snow is covering their food and the insects are dormant.

The first thing to do is wash your feeders with a stiff brush and a solution of one part bleach to nine parts warm water. Rinse well afterwards and dry. Wet seed can really clog your feeders and it can grow bacteria. Another note on old seed--in the spring be sure to rake or sweep up the old seed and add it to your compost or waste pile. Once your feeders are clean it's time to fill them with seed and put them up.

Feeders that are on poles or stakes should be at least 5 foot off the ground and not too near trees, bushes, fence etc. They should be about 8-10 foot from any surface that would provide a place for cats or squirrels to jump from. Though you should have some type of bushes, trees or evergreens beyond that 8-10 ft. area that the birds can use to safely perch. Provide a few different feeders and you will have a nice variety of birds to watch.

Seeds that will really provide the best nutrition for the birds and a good selection of birds for you to watch will be black-oil sunflower seeds, cracked corn, millet, niger (thistle) and suet. If you want to limit what you buy, go with the black sunflower seeds. It will attract woodpeckers, blue jays, goldfinches, purple finches, titmice, nuthatches and chickadees. Cracked corn and seed on the ground, or a seed table or platform that is lower to the ground, will attract the mourning doves,juncos and bobwhites. If you have a tree stump you can put on a plastic pot tray, securing it with a screw or nail, and use that for a feeding platform. It's always neat to try different types of feeders to observe which ones are used the most and what birds are attracted to them. You can make simple feeders out of milk jugs, bleach containers, soda bottles etc. Always make sure they are washed and rinsed well.

Visit OFL to read about Chickadees in Winter:

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