2010-01-04 / LifeStyles

Feeding birds is the ‘in’ thing to do

Attracting birds to backyard is low-cost way to relax and enjoy nature
More people feed birds than watch football, baseball or any other sport, or participate in any other outdoor activity. That's right. Bird feeding is in. More than 65 million Americans are doing it, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Bird feeding is “in” and it’s easy to see why. Attracting birds to your backyard is a relatively low-cost way to relax, enjoy nature and beautify your winter surroundings. And it can be done by people of virtually all ages and levels of physical ability.

The majority of North American birds suffer from loss of habitat. Investment in avian habitat will return valuable dividends for birds and tons of backyard enjoyment for us. Now, as a new season is just beginning, it's a perfect time to get started.

To attract the widest variety of birds, landscape your property with plants that offer birds cover and natural foods and always provide a source of water.

Need for Feeders

When the ground is covered with snow and ice, it's hard to resist just tossing seed out the door. But it's healthier for the birds to get their "hand-outs" at a feeding station, off the ground. Food that sits on the ground for even a short time is exposed to potential contamination by dampness, mold, bacteria, animal droppings, lawn fertilizers and pesticides.

Sometimes it can seem like forever before birds notice a new feeder. Be patient and they will eventually come. And remember, if you fill your feeder only after it's been empty for awhile, the birds will look for food elsewhere. They'll return as long as you continue to fill it.

There are a multitude of feeders out there from which to choose.

Winter feed and seed:

Food for fat

Winter weather is hard on birds. Their calorie requirements increase, food becomes hard to find, snow covers up seeds, and ice storms seal away the tree buds and wild fruits. Tiny birds must eat a third to three quarters of their weight each day. When the temperature dips below zero, easy meals at a feeder can mean the difference between life and death.

It’s important to stock your feeder with high-quality that will provide birds with the most fat, nutrients and energy.

Birds love suet. It's the solid fat rendered from beef, venison or vegetables that provides concentrated energy to help birds make it through freezing winter days and nights.

Birds, like humans, do have food preferences. Feed them what they like and they’ll keep coming back for more.

For more information, visit www. coleswildbird.com

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