Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Winter Bird Feeding

Birds sure have it tough in winter.  Think about it: bone-chilling temperatures, no insects, frozen water sources, snow-covered vegetation... not to mention stark white backgrounds against which predators easily spot their tweety meals.  Because of these hardships, many people choose to feed birds during the winter months.  Bird feeding stations provide energy and nourishment to many species of Adams County birds.  Our simple sunflower, suet and cracked corn feeding station drew fifteen species today.  They were:
Mourning Dove
Carolina Wren
Blue Jay
Tufted Titmouse
Red-winged Blackbird
House Finch
English Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Red-Bellied Woodpecker
Eastern Towhee

Setting up a feeding station is easy.  The trick is keeping the station stocked with appropriate foods throughout the cold months.  Birds require good-quality feeds, such as sunflower and thistle seeds and suet.  Feeding birds items like bread and popcorn fill their bellies while doing little to nourish their bodies.  The birds feel full, but they may actually become weakened due to the lack of sustenance contained in these foods.  

Cleanliness is the next most important consideration for a feeding station.  Any large group of animals - or people - that congregates in one area day after day are capable of passing viruses to each other.  It is important to clean feeders with a dilute bleach solution every few weeks (a quarter cup of bleach per 2 gallons water).   Also rake away hulls and other leftovers on the ground to avoid trapping diseases near the feeder.

Above all, enjoy your feathered visitors!