It’s Always Bird Feeding Time!
Four seasons and the reasons
People have traditionally fed wild birds primarily during the winter due to the fact that was the only season certain retail outlets made bird feeding products available. So we have grown to assume that winter is the only season that birds benefit from our enjoyment of backyard bird feeding, based more on marketing strategies than the needs of our feathered friends. In fact, most retailers stock their shelves well after the majority of birds have already established winter feeding territories.
Ironically we put our feeders out in late autumn when natural food supplies are at a maximum, then take them down in early spring when forgeable materials are at their least abundant. Our wild bird population can be faced with competition for remaining food reserves that have not been consumed or destroyed over the winter months. It will be late summer to early autumn before these natural foods are replenished to any degree.
The Wild Bird Habitat Stores of Lincoln are dedicated to providing a wide variety of products year round along with accurate information to create successful backyard feeding programs. This will not only be of maximum benefit to our wild birds but will bring endless entertainment to your yard through-out all four seasons.
Bird Feeding – It’s Not Just AWinter Activity Anymore!
SPRING: Feeding birds in late winter and throughout spring can be very exciting as well as helpful to our wild birds. Natural food sources are scarcer now. February marks the beginning of migration for our winter residents and they will utilize feeders to store up energy for their return trip to the north. Pair bonding begins around this same time for our permanent resident birds. Research confirms birds will nest earlier and quicker where feeders are present since less time is spent foraging for natural foods. Spring and early summer are stressful periods for our wild bird population. During this time they will define and defend territories, go through their spring molt, mate and construct nests, care for nestlings and rear fledges. Many will have several broods expending more energy and putting additional strains on the limited food reserves.
Backyard bird feeders can help relieve competition for food as well as become temporary stopovers for neo-tropical migrants on their way north during late April and through-out the month of May. Certain specialty feeders, such as oriole and hummingbird feeders, need to be in place prior to their arrival around April 20th. Continued feeding into spring and summer is a means to supplement food sources for our backyard birds and has a very positive impact on their population. In no way does it hamper their ability to forage for foods and survive in the wild should the availability of feeders cease.
SUMMER: June through August can be a most enjoyable time for feeding birds in the backyard. With increased daylight hours and more leisure time we are able to view our guests for longer periods. From a comfortable chair on the patio it is not unusual to have Cardinals, Chickadees and others feeding with-in close proximity to you. You may even begin to identify specific birds by their individual traits or habits. And nothing is more exciting than to watch the adults bring their young to the feeders to teach them to eat.
Woodpeckers eat more suet between March and July than they do all winter long, and it is common to see them bring their fledglings to the suet feeders. If Grackles, large black birds, begin to overpower your feeders during the summer, fill them with safflower seed. It is an attractive feed for Cardinals, Chickadees, Doves, Finches and others year round, but is ignored by Grackles and squirrels. Summer feeding programs differ slightly from other seasons, but can prove to be the most rewarding and interesting months for attracting birds to the backyard.
AUTUMN: Migration for many wild birds begins in mid August. Backyard feeders, water sources and habitat will be alive with birds preparing for their journey south. By Augusts’ end many northern migrants will be passing through and again will stop off to replenish themselves before continuing on. By early September our resident birds will begin to form small feeding groups at which time winter feeding grounds will be established. These birds will locate several areas to forage for the now ripening natural foods they desire.
Backyard feeders, if available, will become part of their daily routes and will continue to be one of their many sources of food through-out the fall and well into the winter months. As October approaches several species of northern birds migrate into the Midwest to spend winter and upon their arrival establish feeding grounds. Many of these birds, such as Juncos, return to the same feeding areas year after year.
WINTER: When snow covers the natural food supplies birds will be drawn to backyard feeders if they are available and have been in place long enough for our desired guests to locate. A feeder put in service in mid-winter may be slow to attract a large and diverse group of wild birds until later on when natural products become scarce. A midwinter snow melt may lure birds away from the feeders if a good supply of foraging materials becomes accessible.
Remember, early autumn to mid-winter is when natural food sources are at their maximum and this will directly affect the amount of birds visiting your backyard bird feeders. Supplemental food sources offered to birds during the winter will decrease their mortality rate in severe weather.
WATER: Remember to always supply a fresh and constant water source for your birds no matter what the season. Many feathered creatures can be attracted with water as easily as with feed products. Water can become very scarce with winter’s frigid temperatures, and in warm weather, run-off from snow melt and rains can carry harmful pollutants.
Year round feeding has many positive effects on our ever changing wild bird population. By adopting certain feeding programs and techniques you can help to expand the range of many birds, increase their numbers and assure their survival. You will also in time build a large diverse population. By offering them food, water and shelter you will not only be rewarded by the presence of their song and beauty, but also the knowledge that you grew closer to nature in an exciting and responsible manner.
56th & Hwy 2
Lincoln, NE 68516
4900 Dudley Street
Lincoln, NE 68504