As the saying goes..."Birds of a feather flock together" in backyards that set out bird feeders, especially during the winter months.
The importance of feeding birds was re-iterated to me while visiting my aunt's home in Nova Scotia this past weekend. We had arrived for a visit on a beautiful sunny day, hardly a stitch of snow covered the ground, and not one bird found perching on any of my aunt's many bird feeders. On days like this, birds enjoy all kinds of wildlife seeds and food that are found naturally near nesting areas as well as being discrete and feeling safe from possible predators. The following day proved to be much different as we woke to a snowstorm with a forecast of at least 10-15 cm of snow. By 8am the next morning my aun'ts bird feeders were brimming with all different sizes and species of birds. It was such a welcome sight and we were all very entertained! This proved the importance of feeding birds, especially when they are challenged finding food on these kinds of days.
As I had mentioned feeding birds is important in the winter months. Not only is it harder for the birds to find food under blankets of snow, but they need to have a good reserve of food to support the extra energy to keep warm especially during extreme temperatures. As birds begin to migrate and seed sources are harder to find in the spring, these feathery friends can benefit from your generosity in your own back yard. You can benefit by feeding the birds just as much as this becomes a hobby and great entertainment while you take a few months off from your gardening duties.
So when it comes to feeding the birds you may wonder what is the best type of food to set out for them. Much of what you feed them will depend on the time of year. With each season, these little guys have a menu preference much like we do. In the winter times we choose to have comfort foods like soups and stews, summer time we tend to BBQ as much as we can. Well, birds don't fire up a BBQ, but I'm sure the foods you set out at preferred times of the year would compare just as important and delicious as ours would! During the winter months as we enjoy certain types of birds that visit the feeders we can set out seeds such as Nyjer,millet, ever popular black-oil sunflower, cracked corn, peanuts and suet cakes to name a few.
This menu can often change as the spring arrives. You can serve fruit, as well as baked or crushed eggshells to name a few.
If you choose to continue to feed the birds during the summer months you can consider filling it with food like Nyjer seed. Once the cooler weather of the fall approaches you will notice different types of birds begin to show up again. At this time you can start introducing your fall/winter menu of suet, sunflower seeds etc. The bird visits to your feeders may diminish during the summer/fall months as there are many natural types of food sources that birds will find tasty as well, but this is a good thing when food choices are more plentiful.
When feeding the birds you will want to refrain from feeding anything like left overs, bread, (especially moldy bread) as all these types of foods will wreak havoc to the bird's overall health. Chocolate is definitely a food that you should refrain from sharing with the birds as it is very toxic to any animal...besides this is one that you should keep as a treat for you!
You may notice that home owners have hung bird houses for nesting and shelter purposes as well as bird feeders. Setting out materials for nesting such as pet fur,string,yarn,etc. are much appreciated at this time as birds begin their "family planning". Bird feeders come in all different styles and sizes to attract all types of birds large and small and are so plentiful as this hobby and benefit has grown.
You can visit our Garden Gate store or check out our bird house and nesting selection online. There are many different sizes and styles to choose from. Once these bird families discover a cozy house, you will have permanent tenants.
As the weather warms there are many other types of habitats, houses and feeders for other beneficials such as bee houses, lady bug and bat homes, frogitats and even butterfly feeders. By setting all these important structures in your yard, you will have many visits from beneficials that will help your garden be that much more successful.
From as far back as I can remember my aunt Mary has always enjoyed feeding the birds and watching them interact with one another from month to month. She has a wealth of knowledge in identifying them as well as what they like to eat. When you experience feeding the birds you not only benefit them but you will also have so much fun learning about them.
*Some of the above pictures were taken from the backyard of my aunts home at our recent visit and I would like dedicate this story to my Aunt Mary and my late Uncle Don.