Daves January Bird Chatter 2011

January is a month when northern birds may stray into our area looking for a winter source of food. Keep watching for that unusual bird at your feeders that you have not identified or seen before. So far this year the Goldfinch and Pine Siskin have arrived in good numbers from the north. Their appetite for thistle will continue to increase as they will be with us until the first of May. Many have reported Red-breasted Nuthatches at their feeders. With heavy snows to the north and winter just gearing up one never knows who may show up at their bird feeders and bird baths.

Fresh open water is important to our birds during cold frigid weather. Eating snow or scouting for open water expends valuable energy they need to survive through the cold winter nights. After all, birds only survive the cold nights on the energy they get from feeding during the day. You can provide open water with a heated bird bath or by adding a bird bath heater to the bird bath you already have. These devices are thermostatically controlled and only use as much energy as a 60 watt light bulb. The benefits are you’ll have more birds visiting your backyard.

Birds need grit to help grind and digest the foods they eat. Often they can find gravel and various materials to aid in their digestive process. But when ice and snow pack cover the ground it becomes more difficult to find such products. You can help by offering grit to your birds. It can be placed out separately, or even a little mixed in with food on a platform feeder. An occasional hand full of sand or gravel tossed on the ground will work, or you can purchase granite grit at the Wild Bird Habitat Stores. A little grit can go a long way.

Suet is an excellent winter food for woodpeckers and other birds of the tree trunk zone. Wild Bird Habitat has a variety of suet feeders that work very well. I will even rub suet on the bark of a tree. The woodpeckers, Carolina Wrens, Brown Creepers, and others, enjoy this method of feeding suet, especially when the suet feeder itself is over crowded. Red-bellied woodpeckers will feed on suet, but they seem to prefer peanuts or Wild Bird Habitat’s Woodpecker Gourmet Mix. Making both suet and peanuts available to the birds of the tree trunk zone delights a lot of our customers with the birds they attract. Let us know if squirrels are a problem when you offer these products to the birds. Wild Bird Habitat has several solutions.

Those folks who feed birds during winter’s cold and blustery weather are providing a wonderful benefit for these feathered creatures. It has been shown through research in Northern areas of our country that it may increase the survival chances of birds by as much as 50%.

Brighten up your office, schoolyard, or place of business by installing a bird feeder outside a window. The birds you attract will surely become a topic of conversation, add a little peace to your busy day, and keep you connected with nature.
Good birding to everyone.

Dave Titterington
Wild Bird Habitat Store

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