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10:56 PM   April 20, 2015
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Winter Bird Feeding

Courtesy of Anatoliy Zavodskov

Winter is a tough season for birds. The long, warm days of summer give way to short, chilly days, and the birds’ natural food supply—bugs, berries and seeds—all but disappear. A backyard bird feeder can make their lives much easier and provide you with some ornithological entertainment. To keep birds flocking to your customers’ backyards for wintertime feasts, they’ll want to set up a bird feeder and fill it with their favorite foods. Here are some tips for customers

Choosing and Placing a Feeder
An ideal bird feeder is sturdy enough to withstand harsh winter weather, tight enough to keep seeds dry, large enough so that it doesn’t have to be refilled constantly, and is easy to assemble and clean. Experts generally recommend plastic or metal feeders rather than wooden ones.

Seed feeders fall into three categories: tray feeders, hopper feeders and tube feeders. Birders typically place tray feeders close to the ground to attract ground feeding birds, like juncos, sparrows and towhees. Tray feeders also work well when mounted on deck railings, stumps or posts. Hopper feeders often hang from trees, decks and poles. They’re especially good for larger species, like cardinals, jays and grosbeaks. Tube feeders, which are perfect for finches, titmice and chickadees, are typically suspended from trees and posts.

Feeders should be positioned in a low-traffic area where it’s easy to see and convenient to refill. It should be placed as close to natural shelters, like trees and shrubs, as possible, but not too close: A nearby branch makes a perfect jumping-off point for squirrels after the seed or cats after the birds. About 10 feet of space between the feeder and any access point is ideal.

The feeder should be cleaned twice a month with soap and water, and then dipped in a sanitizing solution of one part bleach to nine parts water. Rinse well and allow it to dry thoroughly before refilling with seed.

Finding the Right Foods
During the fall and winter, most songbirds shift their diets from insects and spiders to fruits and seeds. It’s the perfect time of year to welcome birds into a yard. The different seeds chosen will attract different types of birds, so be sure to offer a diverse variety of food. Here are the most popular:

Black-oil sunflower seeds attract the greatest number of species. They have a high meat-to-shell ratio, they are nutritious, high in fat, and their small size and thin shells make them easy for small birds to handle and crack.

Corn, which is dried whole-kernel, is a favorite food for jays, pigeons, doves, quail and pheasants. It’s the least expensive of all the birdseeds. Cracked corn is easier for blackbirds, finches and sparrows to eat.

Nijer, a thistle seed, is a delicacy for small birds, like goldfinches, siskins and redpolls. Because Nijer seeds are small and expensive, offer them in a special Nijer feeder, which has tiny ports that prevent the seeds from spilling out.

With the right food and feeder, birds will flock to backyards! It may take a while for birds to learn about the new feeder, so be patient. They’ll find it! <HOME>

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