Courtesy of ARA Content
Bird feeding is in. More than 65 million Americans are doing it, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Bird feeding draws plenty of devotees, and it’s easy to see why. Attracting birds to your back yard is a relatively low-cost way to relax, enjoy nature and beautify your winter surroundings. And it can be done by people of virtually all ages and levels of physical ability.
The majority of North American birds suffer from loss of habitat. Investment in avian habitat will return valuable dividends for birds and tons of backyard enjoyment for us. Now, as a new season is just beginning, it’s a perfect time to get started.
To attract the widest variety of birds, landscape your property with plants that offer birds cover and natural foods and always provide a source of water.
Need for feeders
When the ground is covered with snow and ice, it’s hard to resist just tossing seed out the door. But it’s healthier for the birds to get their “hand-outs” at a feeding station, off the ground. Food that sits on the ground for even a short time is exposed to potential contamination by dampness, mold, bacteria, animal droppings, lawn fertilizers and pesticides.
Sometimes it can seem like forever before birds notice a new feeder. Be patient, and they will eventually come. And remember, if you fill your feeder only after it’s been empty for a while, the birds will look for food elsewhere. They’ll return as long as you continue to fill it.
There are a multitude of feeders out there to choose from. Check out Web sites like www.BirdWatcherSupply.com for some good choices.
Winter feed and seed: food for fat
Winter weather is hard on birds. Their calorie requirements increase, food becomes hard to find, snow covers up seeds, and ice storms seal away the tree buds and wild fruits. Tiny birds must eat a third to three-quarters of their weight each day. When the temperature dips below zero, easy meals at a feeder can mean the difference between life and death.
It’s important to stock your feeder with high-quality foods that will provide birds with the most fat, nutrients and energy. Look for a feed like Cole’s that is nutritious, preserves freshness, and gives you the most feed for your dollar. Cole’s Oil Sunflower is more than 99 percent pure, and is cleaned more than four times to ensure there are more seeds and fewer sticks in each bag. The feed is also nitrogen-purge packaged, just like potato chips, to ensure freshness and insect-free feed.
Birds love suet. It’s the solid fat rendered from beef, venison or vegetables that provides concentrated energy to help birds make it through freezing winter days and nights.
Cole’s Wild Bird Products offers a good selection of suet cakes formulated to attract the largest variety and number of wild birds as well as specific bird species. They also have a new Hot Meats suet cake. This product is infused with habanero chili pepper—a patented technology researched and approved by scientists from Cornell to keep squirrels away. Birds love it, and squirrels hate it, finally solving the age-old problem of squirrels at your feeder.
To cater to seed-loving birds, try Cole’s Nutberry Suet Blend. It’s a unique seed blend mix of premium human-grade cherries, apples and blueberry-flavored cranberries, preferred nuts, nutritious insect suet kibbles, and whole kernel sunflower meats. It appeals to both fruit- and insect-loving songbirds.
Birds, like humans, do have food preferences. Feed them what they like, and they’ll keep coming back for more.
For more information about Cole’s Feed, visit www.coleswildbird.com.
From the December 9-15, 2009 issue