Monday, October 27, 2008

Feeding The Birds

Your success in attracting birds depends on how far you can fulfill their basic needs. Even if your yard does not contain the natural wealth of food, water or large trees, you can create these features for our feathered friends by providing birdfeeders, birdbaths and a birdhouse .

You do not need anything elaborate to feed the birds. Just a few pieces of crust thrown on the ground will do the trick. Of course, many use commercial feed as a food source for feeding the birds. Feeding the birds is a popular pastime and it is estimated that 85 million people in North America use birdfeeders or landscape their yards with certain plants to attract birds. Studies show that several birds including chickadees, titmice, nuthatches and
woodpeckers can benefit from extra food supplies during the winter.

Just to give you an idea as to what birds may require for food, a blackcapped chickadee requires about 160 sunflower seeds each day and requires 250 seeds in a severe frost. Researchers have found that chickadees only take about a quarter of their food from feeders. In other words, the food we give them is a supplement to their natural diet, but is extremely valuable in very cold weather. When natural supplies are scarce, birdfeeders can make all the difference. The birds rely on this food to survive in temperatures zero degrees and below.

By perching quietly with their feathers fluffed out for extra insulation, birds can conserve energy too. They can can do this only as long as they have enough body fat to act as fuel though. Once this is used up they will either freeze or starve. Therefore, it cannot be stressed enough how important feeding the birds becomes in the cold winter months. Feeding in the summer can also be beneficial to birds. Raising a family is a tiring job. Some bird parents can make several hundred flights to the nest with food each day. Making it easy to find an additional food source for them can make their job less strenuous.

Most people get pleasure from the birds that come into the yard. For people who are confined indoors, backyard birdwatching can become a particular joy. A few minutes in the morning or evening can be a perfect way to forget about the tensions of the work day. Children can also enjoy and learn from the frequent visitors that come to the feeders


Food from the feeder is not usually suitable for nestlings. The feeder is actually something like a fast food joint, where both parents can get a nourishing treat for themselves while collecting food for their young.


It is often said that once you start to feed the birds in the winter, you should not stop until winter is over. The University of Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology has said putting food into feeders can make life for the birds that much easier and it is a valuable contribution to their survival in the hard winter, but no bird relies entirely on one source of food. In natural circumstances, birds have to adapt to changing food sources for their survival and this depends on how quickly they find new food supplies. There are times when birds may become dependent on bird feeders. In the spring, before their natural food is readily available or in unusual hard spells of weather, well stocked feeders are life savers.


Many people stop feeding birds at the end of winter because they are afraid that they may temp migrants to stay behind, when in fact, birds may need the extra food to put on fat to be used for their juorney. Many of the birds that do not migrate will leave the suburbs for the country to nest. Those that do, turn to natural food and seem to ignore the feeders.
The yard cannot always be relied upon to be an adequate source of food. If you have coaxed the birds into nesting in one of your birdhouses, you should make sure that they have enough to eat. Many people are often afraid that the nestlings may be fed unsuitable food from a feeder, but in many bird species, the diet of the nestling differs from the adults. The parents can obtain their own requirements easily from the feeder, while finding the correct natural food for their offspring.

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