Now that the temperatures have taken a dive and we’ve had some hard freezes, let’s sit in our nice warm houses and look through the windows at what’s happening outside. The insects and the flowers are gone which means our feathered friends that winter over with us will be scrounging for other sources of food.
Putting bird feeders on your property is a good source of entertainment for both you and your pets. In the early mornings both my cats and my dogs love to sit and watch out the windows as the ground feeding birds come in for their breakfast.
Late fall and winter are the best times to see our local birds up close as they come to eat at feeding stations placed strategically for viewing and accessibility. For convenience purposes, keep feeders near the house but away from outdoor furniture, decking or cars that you don’t want bird droppings to spoil. For the sake of the birds, protect feeding stations from wind and place them near bushes or trees where they can take cover from predators. If there are windows near the feeder, use clings or hang decorative objects in them to help the birds avoid crashing into them.
Many different types of birds remain in South Jersey through the cold weather including Cardinals, Bluebirds, Chickadees, Wood Peckers and Carolina Wrens.
To attract the widest variety of winter birds, you’ll need to provide a smorgasbord of seeds, dried fruits, berries, nuts and mealworms. For a basic mix that will attract many birds, go with black oil sunflower seed and white (not red) millet. There are other seeds available, such as grey striped sunflower and safflower seed, but they can get pricey if your feeding a lot of birds. If you are putting a new feeder out, sprinkle seeds on a white paper plate under the feeder, this will catch their eye and help lead them to their new eatery.
You may also want to include a suet feeder or two. Suet is very high in fat which gives birds the extra energy they need in cold weather. There are also a lot of choices in suet which include seed, nuts and fruit.
Peanut butter is another great energy provider. During the cool months you can smear it on tree bark or put it on pinecones and dip them in seed for a special treat. The pine cones actually make nice winter decorations when smeared, seeded and hung with a little red ribbon from tree branches.
Finally, don’t forget the water. Like all creatures, birds need water to survive. Birdbaths are a great addition to any backyard habitat. Running water with even a slight drip will bring birds of all types in, especially one that is fluid through the winter. You can get birdbath heaters starting at about $30, they’re not cheap but they’re well worth it if you want a sure fire bird attraction in your yard.