Ways to Help Birds in Bad Weather
Wintertime, and the living’ ain’t easy. Birds are hungry, and the weather is cold. We all know by now that birds can survive without our help in the winter. Some ornithologists have even suggested that bird feeding is more beneficial to us (humans) than it is to the birds. Be that as it may, studies have shown that birds with access to bird feeders in winter survive at a higher rate than birds without access to feeders. The difference between the have's and the have-not's is not huge, but it’s there. Feeding birds in winter, if done right, is a good thing for the birds (and for us, too). 1. Make sure food is accessible and dry. Seed and pellet feeders are good at protecting seed/pellets from wet weather, and they release food as it is eaten. In areas of the country that see it’s fair share of snow: sweep snow off of platform feeders, or clear a place on the ground where you can scatter food for ground-feeding species. 2. Consider adding an extra-large-capacity seed feeder. It not only gives the birds another place to eat, which means more birds can eat at one time, but it also cuts down on our trips outside for refilling the feeders. Other extras to consider having: have a selection of suet feeder and fruit feeders (for the small birds to use), and a covered bird feeder. 3. Scatter seed in sheltered places. Not all birds will venture to your feeder. Some species prefer to skulk in the thickets, brambles, and other secure places. For these species, consider scattering some seed (premium wild bird seed) under your deck, in your hedges and bushes, or even along the edge of an area with shrubs. 4. Put out high-energy foods. such as suet, meat scraps, and peanut butter. Fat gives the biggest energy boost to winter birds, and without enough energy to keep them going, many songbirds would not survive a cold winter night. Suet (the fat removed from processed beef), meat scraps, and peanut butter all provide fat to birds that eat them. Investing in a few suet feeders is a great idea as they can be easily suspended from a tree branch or hook. If you are feeding peanut butter, we have a great Jar bird feeder that makes the job of loading the peanut butter easy! Wild bird energy log feeders also make a great choice. 5. Use a birdbath. Add warm water regularly to your birdbath especially in the coldest of weather. This is a very important part of caring for your garden birds as birds need water to drink especially when it’s cold and other water sources maybe frozen. 6. Furnish your bird houses. Imagine you’re a bird roosting in a nest box on a cold winter’s night. Wouldn’t it be nice to snuggle down into some dried grass or dry wood shavings in the bottom of the house? We usually layer three to four inches of clean dry grass in the bottom of our bird boxes after the last nesting of the summer. We are finding that many of our boxes is used as a roost site in the off-season. Wood shavings work well, too. Don’t use sawdust, however; it can retain moisture once wet, which does not help the birds keep warm. Here’s another bird house tip… 7. Plug the air vent holes in your bird houses and nesting boxes. Good ventilation is necessary on a scorching summer day, but it’s a real liability for birds seeking winter shelter. Think how cozy the birds will be in a well-sealed house. 8. Be ready for big changes in weather. If you keep abreast of the weather developments you’ll know when bad weather is coming, and you’ll be able to stock up on seed, suet, and other goodies. You can also be ready to take on some of the activities listed above. Conversely, when the weather breaks, take advantage by cleaning and disinfecting your feeders (one-part bleach to nine parts hot water). "Whatever you do, don’t let yourself be caught totally unprepared for harsh winter weather. The birds don’t have to live off of your feeders, but it sure helps make their winter living’ a little easier".