News about the health and beauty of the natural world that sustains us.
Winter can be a hard time for birds. With short days and cold nights, our feathered neighbors must spend more time searching for food, water and shelter. To give them a boost, people often feed birds throughout the winter season. Sunflower seed, suet cakes and peanuts are three good sources of protein and fat for birds looking to maintain their body temperatures in cold conditions. Size and placement of feeders is also important, as many birds from large groups, or flocks, in winter due to food scarcity and protection against predators. Feeders are best located in open areas so that birds can find them and survey their surrounding while feeding, but close enough to vegetation to be out of the wind and to provide an easy escape should predators like hawks or owls be detected.
Viewer Tip: When choosing food for the feeder, select high protein and high fat foods like sunflower seeds or suet for overwintering birds. Select feeders that have squirrel-proofing mechanisms to limit seed loss. When looking for a location to place your feeder, choose a spot that is out of the wind and within 10 to 15 feet of shrub/forested cover. Also, be sure to clean feeders regularly to reduce potentially harmful fungal and bacterial growth and don't forget to take them down in the spring to prevent issues with bears and other wildlife.
This information is provided by the Mount Washington Observatory. Learn more at mountwashington.org. Image of the black-capped chickadee courtesy of New York's Department of Environmental Concern.