- Get ready now for the 13th Annual Great Backyard Bird Count. Details inside.
- Share watching birds at the feeders with your kids, family, friends and guests.
- Continue to watch your feeders for new winter birds..
- Fresh, open water is extremely important for birds during cold weather.
- Provide grit for your feathered guests when snow and ice cover the ground.
- Finch and Pine Siskin’s appetite for thistle seed will continue to increase.
- Suet and peanuts are excellent winter foods for woodpeckers and others.
- You can make the difference in the survival of many of our feeder birds.
- Consider a small bird feeder outside your office window or place of business.
January is a very good month for birds to stray into our area looking for a winter home and 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. Last year we were inundated with Red-breasted Nuthatches, but fewer have been reported this winter. But sever snow and ice storms to our north could change that in a hurry.
February is the Great Backyard Bird Count. Visit the GBBC website now and get ready for this free, four day count. Get the family involved counting bird. Have students count birds in the schoolyard or at a nearby park. Then log your data onto the Great Backyard Bird Count website. Linda and I usually count birds at our home on Friday, the first day of the count. Saturday we count birds at the Pioneers Park Nature Center. Sunday we take a road trip counting birds and log our findings in using the various zip codes where we counted birds. And wrap it up with another count at our home on Monday. Whether you count the 5 birds you see in your yard or the 75 birds you find walking through your neighborhood or park, every bird you count is important. It’s a great mid-winter activity
for individuals, families, classrooms, scout troops, anyone, to get outside and get some fresh air, enjoy a bit of nature, and be a citizen scientist providing valuable data to biologists. The information you provide is combined with the Christmas Bird Count and Project Feeder Watch to create a snapshot of the distribution and health of the birds we all have come to love and enjoy. The Great Backyard Bird Count is a project of Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology and Audubon.
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 is a popular year round food source, especially for Downy and Hairy woodpeckers. 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 reject 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.
As you may have read in our December Newsletter, birds do not become reliant on the foods we offer them. They are opportunistic, and as such, take advantage of our generous offerings. It has been proven scientifically, that birds do have a higher survival rate when supplemental foods are made available. In extremely cold weather, birds are basically 36 hours from starvation, surviving only on whatever foods they can consume during the day. Bird feeders are just one of many food sources they have. And as natural food sources become harder to find in mid to late winter, and even into spring, our bird feeders become an important source of food for their survival.
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.