Saturday, March 5, 2011

Wintering Birds - Feeding

Bird Feeding in Winter with Recipes

Attract the wintering birds to your yard by offering them suet nourishment during cold weather. Not only will you be doing a great service to birds, but you will learn from watching the birds that frequent your feeding area. Establishing a bird feeder that offers a diversity of food is the best choice. A suet cage or feeder is perfect for wintering birds. I know, suet? yuck! BUT, it is the best choice for birds. You can still offer the traditional sunflower seed mix which is a great source of food year round, but consider purchasing a suet feeder and suet...or make your own suet for the birds (see recipes at the bottom the this article).

Suets may contain berries, peanut butter, insects, fat, nuts, cormeal, oatmeal, flour and of course seeds of any combination - all packed into a cake, log, ball or bell. Suet mixes will even attract birds that normally only eat bugs. Nuthatches, woodpeckers, starlings and chickadees love suet mixes!

IF you choose a traditional feeder and seed alone, just be sure the feeder is weatherproof and can hang where it is safe from rain and snow.

This is a good tip for any kind of feeder, including a suet cage or basket.

It is also best to place food in a feeder which protects seed from bird droppings. As well, the birds should not be made vulnerable to predation or other hazards by careless placement of the bird feeder or suet feeder.

Did you know some kinds of leftovers or kitchen scraps can be given to birds? Breads, baked goods, fat - melt fat and add the dried bread or other baked goods to create your own suet ball or log. If you use PEANUTBUTTER, be sure to mix it with other fats and seeds to prevent CHOKING.

Have you thought about a heated birdbath in winter? birds will appreciate water to drink as well. Birds also use grit for digestion aid, so consider having dirt, sand, bits of salt or ground up eggshells near your bath. Please see the Suet Recipes at the bottom of this article.

Did you know that some species have actually changed their winter habits and range because of bird feeding? In the Pacific Northwest you may notice Robins sticking around all year. That's because of the abundance of food. As well, Evening Grosbeaks,Cardinals and other species have changed their wintering habits in areas around the United States and Canada.

Now, there are other issues to consider when feeding wintering birds. Squirrels, Cats, dogs and other animals that steal food or kill birds. Cats kill more birds than any predator but dogs can also be dangerous to birds so try not to place your feeder near where these animals frequent or where these animals can hide.

Be sure the feeders are close to natural hiding places for the birds but not other animals. Squirrel proof feeders that are set high on a feeding pole are a good choice.

Don't place your feeder too close to the windows as birds are known to fly into windows and kill or injure themselves. Keep checking the feeder and watching for issues. If you see a particular food or seed being ignored then you know not to keep including it.

When you establish a feeder (try keeping it in the same place so birds get used to travelling to it) you will get to know the birds that frequent your feeder. If you enjoy watching the birds, consider setting up a webcam or taking photographs of the birds to share with others.

Pinfeathers Bluebird Suet

Mix in a food processor or vigorously by hand:

1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup lard
2 cups cornmeal
1 cup flour
Chopped raisins, currants, nuts, dried fruit, eggshell (fine)
(you can use any or all of these last ingredients)

Place in a pan and cool. this can be cut up and placed in a suet cage or feeder.

Pinfeathers Suet Feed

1 cup vegetable shortening or lard
• 1 cup chunky peanut butter
• 2 cups regular unbleached or bleached flour
• 3 cups yellow cornmeal

You can add chopped nuts and fruits of your choice. Currants & raisins are popular.

Happy feeding!


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