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Winter Bird Feeding Tips
Pat Sziber

Late winter can be the most trying time for birds. Though holly berries and some other fruits are not edible until they have undergone deep freeze, many other naturally occurring fruits and seeds have been picked clean. The heavy wet snows and nor’easters that come late in the season add to the stress endured by our feathered friends. Here are a few tips from one who is determined to outwit the howling tempest to make sure her “babies” have sustenance.

Stock up. Now is the time to have those 20-lb. bags of seed on hand in case you can’t get to the store. Extra suet cakes and a tub of mealworms, too.

Clean off the snow. Keep a broom or brush near the door and clear the snow off the feeders as soon as you can.

The challenge of ground feeders. If your ground or platform feeder does not have a roof, you’re going to have to battle it out with the snowstorm. Keep boots and broom or shovel by the door and, as often as needed, run out and clear the area. I put a bit of seed out each time I brush the snow away. Of course, for me and other working people, this is an option only on weekends and during snow emergencies. You might consider constructing a lean-to that will at least keep some of the area fairly clear.

Ice isn’t nice. This is not likely to be an option for fussy housekeepers, but I toss mixed seed between our garage and the back door as an environmentally friendly way to safely traverse the ice that invariably accumulates on the patio. It’s not their usually feeding station, but the birds quickly find the bounty. Any seed not trapped by the mat by the door but tracked into the house is easy to clean up.

Get Fido in on the act. He’ll never miss a handful of kibble and, besides, dogs have generous hearts. Moisten the dry food before setting it out. Bread, pancake and waffle scraps are okay. You might want to clean these items up before nightfall if you’d rather not provide a banquet for other wildlife.

Snow-day project. Gather pine cones and keep them on hand for the kids to goop up with peanut butter. Hang them where they can be seen from the house.

Early arrivals. Robins will be arriving from the south by late February, replacing their hardier Canadian buddies who have wintered here. First, they will clean off those previously-frozen holly berries. I’ve seen them do it in a day. When those are gone, and before the worms become active, they will need protein. Run out and buy another tub of mealworms and ask Fido for another donation.





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Last revision: Sunday, January 29, 2012