How To

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From Xplor: January/February 2019

Putting up a bird feeder — or several — when it’s cold and snowy offers a win-win. Birds get treats, and you get tweets. Follow these 10 tips to keep your beaktipped buddies well-fed all winter long.

  • Stock up on sunflower seeds. What should you serve at your bird buffet? Black-oil sunflower seeds attract the widest variety of birds. Northern cardinals especially love ’em.
  • Keep it clean. You wouldn’t want to eat off of a dirty plate, and the feathered foragers in your yard don’t want to either. Keep your feeders clean by washing them in soapy water every two weeks. Let them dry completely before filling them with seeds.
  • Offer fatty foods, too. Suet cakes or peanut butter mixed with cornmeal provides a high-energy snack for woodpeckers, nuthatches, and chickadees.
  • Remember water. Like all animals, birds need water to survive. A pan of water will wet a thirsty bird’s whistle if the weather’s warm. When it’s cold, a heated birdbath is best.
  • Put up more than one feeder. Sometimes one bird will hog all the food at a feeder. (We’re looking at you, blue jay.) To share the love with the rest of the flock, put up an extra feeder or two. #6Hang feeders near windows. It sounds silly, but placing feeders within 3 feet of a window is the best way to keep birds from crashing into it. Why? Birds are more likely to notice the glass, and even if they don’t, they aren’t likely to be flying fast when they take off and land at the feeder.
  • Keep your feeders full. If you forget to fill your feeder, don’t sweat it. Birds will find food elsewhere. But to keep your feathered friends coming back, keep the food a-coming.
  • Keep cats inside. Who doesn’t love cute little kitties? Birds, that’s who! Biologists estimate that house cats kill nearly a billion birds in the U.S. each year. So keep Fluffy indoors. It’s safer for her and for the birds.
  • Baffle squirrels. Bushy-tailed bandits can gobble seed by the bushel. Discourage squirrels by putting baffles — wide, saucer-shaped pieces of plastic — above and below your feeders. A trash can lid makes an inexpensive yet effective baffle.
  • Offer shelter. When possible, place your feeders near trees and shrubs — but not too close. Birds need cover to escape from predators and to take shelter from wind and rain. But bushes also offer hiding places for cats and other bird munchers. Hanging feeders 10 feet away gives birds the best chance.

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This Issue's Staff

Bonnie Chasteen
Les Fortenberry
Karen Hudson
Angie Daly Morfeld
Noppadol Paothong
Marci Porter
Mark Raithel
Laura Scheuler
Matt Seek
David Stonner
Nichole LeClair Terrill
Stephanie Thurber
Cliff White