Photo credit: Don DeBold
As the warm summer temperatures are fading into cool crisp autumn mornings, we start to reshift our focuses from carefree fun to preparing for the cold winter ahead. And we’re not the only ones doing so. If you slow down to watch, you’ll notice that much of the wildlife around you is beginning to prepare for the coming lean months. Squirrels are gathering their winter stock piles and deer are foraging and fattening up in preparation for when the grasses and foliage is no longer readily available. The birds have started to plan for the long winter as well. While you may have abandoned your bird feeders and bird baths in the heat of summer, now is the time to start preparing those bird havens.
You may think it’s too early to begin feeding your birds again, but, in fact, now is when your feathered friends are planning and plotting ahead for their winter food sources. A well stocked feeder in the fall will provide resident birds with a familiar and reliable source of food throughout the winter and will also help migratory birds to calorie-load as they fly to their preferred wintering grounds.
There is a variety of seed and food options that you can provide to the birds in your neighborhood that will keep them happy and help them to build up their winter fat stores. Seed mixes that include black oil sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, niger seeds, white millet, and broken nuts are always a hit with most backyard birds. A block of hanging suet is a great way to attract insect-eating birds such as woodpeckers, chickadees, bluebirds, titmice, jays, and wrens. (Here are some great suet recipes that you can make at home!) You can even put out some chopped fruits - especially apples and oranges! - for the birds to enjoy.
A fun way to hang fruit for your birds.
One thing that most people forget during this time of year and throughout the winter is water. In many cases, both resident and migratory birds are seeking out fresh, unfrozen water. In regions where water sources freeze early and often, fresh water is hard to find for our feathered friends. Keeping your bird bath filled throughout the colder months can be a lifesaving measure for the birds in your community.
Do you have any favorite seed mixes or suet recipes that your backyard birds love? Share in the comments!