When autumn progresses and you know winter will soon be setting in, it”s time to prepare wild birds for the cold ahead. Here are some tips for preparing wild birds for winter.
* Take down hummingbird feeders. Hummingbirds migrate, but if you leave your sugar-water feeder up past the time when hummingbirds migrate, they may neg
lect to fly south. The presence of a food source can fool the hummingbirds into staying in a climate too cold for them.
* Hang up bird feeders. Wild birds will take a little while to recognize the food source you”re offering, so hanging up feeders in fall is a good way to show them where they can find food when winter sets in. If you want to build your own bird feeder, autumn is the time.
* Stock up on suet cakes. Don”t put these out until the weather gets cold, because they can spoil or get rancid in warm weather. But make sure you have some handy for winter (store it in the refrigerator). Suet is fat, and birds really need this high-calorie offering to keep warm. Chickadees are big fans of suet, as are finches and grosbeaks. Squirrels like suet, too, so try to put it in a place where squirrels can”t get to it (unless you want to feed the squirrels, too!).
* Plant cold-hardy shrubs that will provide shelter for birds in cold weather. Try to get shrubs or small trees that bear fruit, too, so birds can eat the berries. Some species, such as holly, have berries through the winter. Shrub roses also bear red rosehips that cling to the plant into the winter months. Evergreen shrubs also make good shelters, and junipers bear berries.
* Set up a cold-resistant water source. Electric or solar-powered water heaters can be purchased at a pet or feed store for a modest amount. Or, commit to keeping the water thawed throughout the day by periodically pouring warm water into it. Having a source of water that will not be dried up or frozen during the winter will be a boon for wild birds.
* Feed the right food. Find out what birds are typically in your area during the winter, and put out their favorite food. Sunflower seeds attract juncos, chickadees, and cardinals. Peanuts are a favorite food of birds as well, in or out of the shell. Titmice, jays, and cardinals especially like peanuts.
With these preparations in place, the wild birds in your area will have a much better chance of surviving the winter.