Safety Tips for Feeding Feathered Friends

Feeding backyard birds in the winter is one of our country’s most popular wildlife-watching activities. Last week we explored the benefits that bird feeding can have on a human’s mental health. Today, we will talk about how to manage your feeders in order to keep your feathered friends safe.

According to Stephen Kress, vice president for bird conservation a the National Audubon society, ” Feeding birds is not necessary for their survival except in extreme weather conditions.”

A large-scale winter storm, with deep snow or ice cover, can cut off many birds from their natural food supplies. Backyard bird feeding can make a real contribution to their survival and even thriving during the winter months.   Here are eight pointers for a successful winter bird feeding season:

  1. Put out larger feeders:  Use multiple feeders to provide ample food especially during snow and ice storms.  
  2. Provide nutritious winter seed foods: For most birds, these often include seed mixes of: black oil sunflower seed, hulled peanuts, niger seed and white millet seed.  Braxton’s offers a variety of bird feed on our second floor.
  3. Offer fatty food too:  Birds need to burn more calories in the winter just to stay warm.  Suet is considered a high energy food because it consists of fat that has 9 calories per gram compared to 4 calories per gram for carbohydrates or protein. Peanut Butter is also popular with our flying friends but is more expensive than suet. Suet feeders are a favorite of woodpeckers and other insect-eating birds.
  4. Keep your feeders full: Winter birds need to stock up on calories especially for those long, cold winter nights.
  5. Be consistent and keep feeding through the winter: Birds grow accustomed to your feeders especially in severe weather when the snacks you offer may mean their very survival.  If you leave home for an extended period, try to have a neighbor or friend keep the feeders going.
  6. Remember water: Birds can become dehydrated in winter even if surrounded by ice and snow.  Putting out a pan of water near the feeder on warmer days is a terrific idea.
  7. Hang feeders in cat-safe locations: Place bird feeders ten to twelve feet from shrubs or brush piles so that birds are not victims of predator sneak attacks.
  8. Remember feeder cleanliness: Your feeders can get a little grimy. Because natural food sources are scarcer in the winter, more birds may be attracted to backyard feeders and those feeders will need to be cleaned with some hot water and dried a few times during the season.

By making simple changes, you can create that haven of comfort and security for local wildlife. Visit Braxton’s Animal Works to see our large selection of wild bird food. For more information on this topic, click here.

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