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Late Winter Bird Feeding

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It’s not too late:

Many folks believe (because they heard it somewhere) that you should not feed the birds during the winter months. Nothing could be farther from the truth; especially if you enjoy having many varieties in your yard come springtime. In autumn many species will migrate further south with the arrival of colder temperatures and shortened day lengths, many will stay if there is adequate food. Birds require the fat and calories found in birdseed to maintain themselves during the cold winter months. By providing them food and water during these months, you’ll have many different varieties year-round.

During this year’s Ground Hog Day, Phil did not see his shadow – which means it’s going to be an early spring. If you did not provide feeding stations during the winter, now is a good time to start because those bird varieties that stayed in the area are always looking for new sources of calories! You can capitalize on attracting new visitors plus the returning migrating birds that follow. Placing feeders out now and maintaining them as feeding stations along with a supply of water will assure that you have plenty of bird families in the spring.

Here are some recommendations as to what to put out now to attract a wide selection of birds.

  • Shelled sunflower seed is very popular among the widest variety of birds. It comes as whole hulled pieces or as chips. It’s 100% food, so there is no waste and mess left behind. It has no hull; and can be eaten by any kind of bird regardless of their beak structure.
  • Black oil sunflower seed is the next most popular seed amongst birds. It has a high oil content that is critical to maintain health and energy. It’s preferred by many varieties of birds; chickadees, cardinals, finches, wrens, titmice, blue jays and others that have the ability to open the shells.
  • Nyger or “Thistle” seed is a very small jet black seed that is rich in oils and attractive to a wide range of small “side-clinging” eaters like goldfinches, purple finches, pine siskin and others.
  • Millet is a staple in most birdseed mixtures. It is high in calories for the energy all birds require. It’s usually hulled and blended with other seed varieties to attract a wide gambit of species.
  • Peanuts are another high calorie staple in many mixes. When shelled, but left whole, it attracts larger woodpeckers, nutcrackers and blue jays. When it’s broken into bits and mixed with the peanut’s “heart” it attracts a wide selection of birds like titmice, chickadees, wrens, and finches.
  • Suet is rendered animal fat that is often mixed with assorted additives such as berries, nuts, birdseed, insects, and other fruit pieces. It is usually formed into “suet cakes” or blocks that fit into specifically shaped wire cages that allow the birds to access the suet while containing it.
  • Cracked corn is popular among larger game birds such as geese, ducks, pheasants, quail, and turkeys; it also attracts smaller ground feeders such as mourning doves and blue birds and jays.
  • Safflower seed is a hard white seed that is not preferred by squirrels but enjoyed by Northern cardinals, house finches, and mourning doves. It is best used on platform feeders which are preferred by these same birds.

Stop by Van Putte Gardens and check out our selection of premium seed mixes and suet varieties. Our blends are made locally from the freshest ingredients and with no added fillers.  We have all kinds of feeders, bird houses, and accessories for all your birding needs.

Success with your Gardening, Naturally!

Written by Rick Stecher, Garden Center Manager

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