Monday, December 15, 2008

Protected Bird Feeding Sites

NE Wisconsin has been pounded with snow lately and now today it is frigid with single temps and a bitter wind. I'm glad I found the time to fill my feeders before this weather hit.

A couple tips I'd like to share regarding feeding birds in the Winter with weather such as we're having in Wisconsin right now. For those of you that have open platform feeders (which are very popular with the birds) you know that snow covers the feed. So let me recommend in addition to sweeping the feeders of snow with a whisk type hand broom, that you find a covered spot like a patio table, or deck where there is open space beneath, that birds will be able to access snow and rain protected feed. To the right here, you will see my version of a UK bird feeding table. I read about feeding tables in the many published bird feeding bits from the UK that I get from my Google Alerts to my e-mail. And actually, I believe their's are standing upright in the yard. But here in Wisconsin this is more what we may need in the Winter.

This is my patio table stored upside down underneath my backyard deck. It is a great place for me to throw some of my bird feed. It is a nice open spot that birds (and critters like deer, squirrels, and rabbits) feel comfortable feeding at. It is underneath the deck so it is protected from rain and snow. At this particular time that I took the picture, last week, we had just gotten about 6 inches of snow and you can see that the front edge of the table is only sparsely covered with a thin layer of snow and the back is entirely clear of it. Yet you can also see it is quite open, so this makes an ideal protected feeding spot for birds, and other animal yard visitors.

The orange cord is an extension cord Bill, my husband, set up for my heated bird bath that he attached to the top of the deck railing for us to view from inside our kitchen area. House finches were just bathing in it after the last snowfall! I don't see as much bathing from it, as I do drinking by the birds. In fact, woodpeckers have even visited lately to "wet their whistle".

Now to the second suggestion I have for winter feeding, and this is primarily for when the temperatures dip to bitter single degrees, and below, with windchill. I have taken to using Hulled Sunflower in my feed, especially during the Winter because I really dislike the black mess the Sunflower shells leave around my feeders on top of the white snow. Because their are no hulls on the sunflower, using it in hopper type feeders is best. Protecting it from the rain will deter it from spoiling. But the hulled Sunflower not only is a neater feed to give the birds, it also allows them to get the high oil and energy provision without having to take the time to shell it first. So when the birds are stressed with the cold temperatures, they can access the food quicker and don't have to take the time to get the shells off. So for me it is a win-win situation. It helps both me and the birds when I use the more expensive hulled sunflower this time of year. And that is in addition to the fact that I'm not paying for the shells, but for only sunflower meats.

That's all for now. Stay warm, and Midwest Feeders, find a protected spot for those bird friends, for you know how their visits can warm your heart!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Stacey's Mom here has a meditation pond with fish in it and she puts some kind of heating element in it to a create a hole in the ice. The birds still eat snow, but will equally gather around the drinking well for refreshment. I will be posting a few photos of juncos doing this in the days to come.