Importance of Native PlantsMar 5, 2020
Choosing the Right OpticsMar 9, 2020
Attracting Birds by Season
This is the most active time for birds. Species that are with us all year long are now joined by neotropical migrants such as Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Scarlett Tanagers, Warblers a plenty, Baltimore Orioles and Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds.
- As breeding begins, be sure to stock your feeders with plenty of black-oil sunflower or mixes that contain more than 50% black-oil. This will provide plenty of energy for birds (and breeding takes a lot of energy!)
- Place suet out regularly for Woodpecker during this busy time. But don’t be surprised if Tanagers, Warblers and other insectivores take to it, as well.
- Fresh mealworms are favorite of Eastern Bluebirds and Carolina/ House Wrens this time of year. So, set them out in a shallow dish that connects to your pole system or one that hangs from a tree.
- Place your Oriole feeders out no later than April 1st.
- Get your Hummingbird feeders out no later than April 15th.
- Finally, place fresh water in your birdbath every day and be sure to give it a quick one-minute scrub when you do.
With young broods now starting to fledge, your feeders will have more mouths to feed. Keep your backyard buffet stocked with plenty of energy-rich black oil sunflower seeds either by itself or in a blend. (Be sure the blend is made of at least 50% black oil sunflower. Otherwise you’re just paying for filler.) Mix things up in your seed variety by adding a “No Mess Mix” comprised of sunflower chips, peanut splits and other nut meat removed from the shell.
- Watch for young birds at your feeders getting their first taste of life out of the nest. Look for their “horns” – downy natal plumes that often remain on the tops of their heads after their juvenile plumage comes in.
- If you’re a Baltimore Oriole fan, don’t let their breeding swoon fool you. After hitting your Oriole feeder, it may seem like they’ve suddenly disappeared. In fact, they’re just tending to their young by feeding them (and themselves) insects. Soon enough, the Orioles will be back at your feeder before heading to Mexico for fall and winter.
- If you have suet out…keep it out! Woodpeckers, Nuthatches, Wrens and other insectivores will make a habit out of using it to augment the bounty of bugs provided by nature.
- Enjoy the blazing yellow of male American Goldfinches all summer long by keeping your finch feeders stocked with BWS Deluxe Finch Mix or nyjer seed. These birds rear their young in late summer…far later than most. That’s because they’re waiting for flowers and weeds to go to seed. Something of an anomaly in the bird world, they only feed their young seeds…not insects.
- Broken Record Alert: place fresh water in your birdbath every day and be sure to give it a quick one-minute scrub when you do.
- Finally, if it seems like the some of your favorite summer birds are going away by August – it’s because they are! Many species are already heading back to their wintering grounds by the time the back-to-school shopping signs are out. Orchard Orioles, for instance, can be done breeding, fledging their young and making the return trip to Mexico by the end of July. So, enjoy your summertime visitors while it lasts!
Both neo-tropical migrants and yearly residents are getting ready for winter in their own special way. Many summer visitors have already headed south...but not all. In fact, the summer’s fledglings are often the last to leave. Additionally, long distance migrants that breed far to the north of us are also passing through. So, keep those Oriole feeders out until Oct. 1 and your Hummingbird feeders out until the first frost makes an appearance.
- Many of our year-round residents, such as Black-Capped Chickadees, Tufted Titmice and Blue Jays will be preparing for cold weather by caching seeds for later. Chickadees can hide as many as 300 seeds in a single day! So, stock your feeders with fresh seed and consider adding peanuts both in and out of the shell to your menu. These fat-laden seeds store well and will provide energy when birds need it most – in the cold of winter!
- Broken Record Alert II: place fresh water in your birdbath every day and be sure to give it a quick one-minute scrub when you do.
- Finally, consider doing less fall yard clean up. That’s right. Messy yards help harbor insects later into the fall season, attracting more birds to your yard. Plus, that yard waste will start to decompose naturally and return its nutrients back to the soil, helping feed your plants and grass over the colder months.
This is the season where birds face a double whammy – cold temperatures force them to expend more energy keeping warm, but less daylight shortens their time to forage for food. So, give it all you’ve got!
- Stock your feeders with fresh seed, keep suet cakes out for Woodpeckers and Carolina Wrens and especially make sure peanuts (in or out of the shell) are part of your backyard mix. Like in fall, peanuts are a great high-fat energy booster for birds that really need the extra calories.
- Also, don’t forget to keep water accessible by adding a heated bird bath or a heating element to your existing bird bath. Ice-free water is critical to birds in winter for both drinking and, yes, bathing. Taking a quick dip helps remove grit from birds’ feathers, allowing them to interlock better and, therefore, improve their insulting value.
- Finally, consider adding plastic domes to your feeders to keep the ice, sleet and snow off your seed so your birds have easy access to it.