As winter approaches, there are many things you can do to help birds survive the season. Here are a few tips that are easy to implement.
Birds use a lot of extra energy to keep warm in cold weather. Therefore, they must consume more calories than they do in warmer months. You can help by feeding high-fat foods, such as suet, peanuts, and seed blends high in black oil sunflower content. This will provide the energy boost they need. It is a good idea to fill your feeders in the evening to make sure food is available first thing in the morning for those early birds, like cardinals and mourning doves.
Most songbirds fill a special pouch in their esophagus with food to digest during the night. That is why you frequently see birds at your feeders as the sun sets.
Water is important to birds in winter not only for drinking, but also for bathing. Most birds fluff out their feathers, creating air pockets between the feathers for insulation. Clean feathers are warmer feathers, and they are also more efficient for flying, so less energy is expended in flight. A heated birdbath that provides a source of open water will attract birds on even the coldest of days.
Some birds perch on one leg and draw the other up to their breast for warmth, alternating legs. Others seek the most sheltered areas they can find. Roosting boxes and nesting boxes give birds a dry place, out of the wind, to rest. Leaving these shelters out provides a haven from harsh winter conditions. Stands of tall grasses, brush piles, and evergreen trees offer birds a place to escape the wind and snow.
If you would like to bake a special treat for the birds, even decorate a holiday tree for them, try this recipe:
Wild Bird Cookies
2 cups flour
2/3 cup Wild Birds Unlimited Simply suet
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup Wild Birds Unlimited Deluxe Seed Blend
You’ll need some extra Deluxe Seed Blend for topping, cookie cutters, elbow macaroni, and string.
Stir together flour, sugar and baking powder. Cut in suet with pastry blender or fork until crumbly. Add water until well-blended. Add 2/3 cup of Deluxe Seed Blend. Knead until smooth. Wrap in waxed paper and place in plastic bag. Chill for one hour or overnight.
Roll out on lightly floured surface to 1/4” thickness. Use cookie cutters to cut desired shapes. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Press macaroni piece through top of cookie for easy hanging. Press more Deluxe Seed Blend over the top of each cookie.
Bake at 325 degrees for 12-15 minutes, or until cookies harden. Remove from cookie sheet. Cool. Pull string through macaroni and hang outside for the birds.