Pomona Valley Audubon
|Winter Feeding for Backyard Birds
BY NORMA STANDARD
Keep your feeders full at all time in the winter, so your feathered friends have a regular source for a snack.
Most winter birds feed on seeds or suet. Your feeding practices can range from simple, throwing out handfuls of birdseed on the ground, to the elaborate, with many specialized feeders providing different foods for different species.
If you're just getting started, or are introducing birding to a youngster, with the child's first feeder, try offering your backyard birds some black oil sunflower seed, one of the most popular seed types for a wide range of species. A hanging tube feeder will provide easy access for the birds, while keeping uneaten food clean an dry. The seed spilled by the birds will be eaten by ground-feeding birds.
Don't be discouraged if you have just put up a new feeder and the birds don't flock to it immediately. Because birds recognize food by sight, it can take a while for them to locate a new source.
Black oil sunflower and suet are sources of energy. Offering suet is a great way to attract a wide variety of insect-eating birds. Suet is a high energy, pure fat substance which is invaluable in winter, when insects are harder to find. Birds that eat suet will still find natural food sources.
Winter is the best time birds really need your help finding open water. The easiest way to attract the largest variety of birds, is to offer a shallow, constant source of clean water for drinking and bathing. Birds are most comfortable in a rough-surfaced source of water about two feet wide, no more than two inches deep. You can start with a shallow, gently sloping bowl placed on the ground. A plastic or terra cotta plant dish or inverted metal trash can lid will do. Put your bath in the open, on the ground or on a pedestal, but not close to shrubs or places cats can hide. Keep your bath away from feeders and nest boxes.
1/2 cup peanut butter
Cut beef suet in small pieces and cook over low flame in a heavy skillet until melted. Combine peanut butter, mixed birdseed, cornmeal, and melted beef suet. Spoon into paper-lined muffin tins. When partially hardened, insert 6-inch loops of cord in the middle, by first poking a hole in the cake with an ice pick. Remove cakes and hang when thoroughly hardened, or store in the freezer until you're ready for them.
Fruit and Nut Cups
Save orange and grapefruit rinds cut in half from breakfast. Using a heavy needle and thread, run the thread through the rind at three evenly spaced points around the edge, and make a hanger. Fill the cups with peanuts, birdseed, apple wedges, raisins, dates and suet chunks.
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