Attracting Birds  |  December 06, 2019

Winter Birding Essentials

By: Tristan Palmgren

Winter is a special season for birding everywhere. Birds are not only (usually – there are some exceptions, like male goldfinches, who lose their bright gold coloring) easier to spot against the snowy foliage, but their behavior changes in dramatic fashion. As naturally-appearing nuts and seeds dwindle, and the energy demands of survival increase, your birds will frequent your feeders and birdbaths more often. That means that winter is a great time to attract new birds to your backyard. They will be out and looking for new sources of food. As birds are creatures of habit, they will continue returning to your feeders even as the seasons change and other food becomes more plentiful.

Let’s consider some things you can do to make our part of the world more welcoming for birds. One of the biggest and best things you can do for your yard is provide fresh, liquid water – ideally with a De-Icer or in a heated bird bath. Maintaining a liquid-water bird bath is not as much of a challenge as you might think. This is a subject important enough to have its own segment in this newsletter. See the article “Winter Birdbaths” for more details.

bird bath deicer
Birdbath & Multi-Use De-Icer

Missouri’s winter and year-round birds will need many more calories to survive and thrive than they did over the summer. That means their preferred food sources will change. Energy is paramount. And the highest-energy, highest-calorie foods that we have are the suet cakes. Pine Tree Farms High Energy Suet is Songbird Station’s best-selling winter food. Suet appeals most to clinging birds like titmice, chickadees, woodpeckers, and bluebirds will all delight in suet cakes, especially if they’re catered to. In addition to High-Energy Suet, Pine Tree Farms makes a variety of specialty suet cakes. Some are formulated to be more attractive to specific birds – insect suet, for example, will draw in more bluebirds. Other cakes are made for different purposes, such as hot pepper suet, which will keep pesky squirrels, raccoons, and deer away from your feeders.

High Octane Suet Cake

As you observe your birds this winter, you may notice that they appear larger and fluffier than before. This is not necessarily because they’re bulking up or storing extra fat. Birds keep themselves insulated from the cold by fluffing their feathers to add more layers of air between them. The multiple layers of feathers and air keep their body heat efficiently trapped. Feathers and fluff alone won’t keep them through the coldest Missouri winters, though. At night and during snowstorms, they’ll be looking for shelter to roost.

You can help them out by providing roosting space. Nest boxes left over from last nesting season are not ideal roosting spaces because their entrance portals are at their tops. While this is a feature during summer, in winter this allows heat to escape into the world. Dedicated roosting boxes are similar to nest boxes, but have their entrance portals at the bottom of the box to allow heat to stay trapped atop, and generally have a built-in ladder or other platform to allow birds access to the warmer top of the box.

Not all nest boxes can be reasonably converted to roosting houses. One recent addition to the Songbird Station catalog is designed to do double-duty. The Songbird Essentials Convertible Roosting House has a detachable front cover that can be flipped depending on the season: entrance portal on top for summer, bottom for winter, and a removable internal ladder. Alternatively, Songbird Essentials’ dried grass roosting pockets not only provide birds with shelter and space, but look fantastic on trees.

Convertible Roosting House

Attracting Birds, Bird Baths, Bird Food and Feeders, Bird Houses and Nesting, Bird Species  |  October 13, 2019

Clean Up Your Act

By: Kevin Alferman

Keeping feeders clean is an ongoing part of feeding the birds and will keep the feeders looking good and minimize the spread of disease. They should be cleaned as needed, but you should plan to clean them at least every two to three months. If you notice sick or diseased birds visiting the feeders, it’s time for a cleaning to stop it from spreading. If the seed gets wet and moldy in your feeder, be sure to disinfect the feeders as the mold can be harmful to birds. The cleaning task is typically an outdoor activity, so your schedule should include cleaning in November before it gets too cold, then again in February when it starts to warm up. A 10% bleach or vinegar solution is best for cleaning because it effectively disinfects the feeders. Be sure the feeders are thoroughly dry before refilling as these solutions are non-toxic once they dry out. Fill up a large container like a trash can, with the solution and submerge your feeders. If you have the time this is a good method to clean all of your feeders at once. Let each feeder soak for a few minutes as the scrubbing will be easier. The Songbird Essentials birdbath and feeder cleaning brushes are specifically designed with long sturdy bristles to clean all of the nooks and crannies. Use one of our many shapes and sizes of bristled bottle brushes to clean tube feeders. While you’re at it, dump out the birdbath and disinfect it too. Be sure and dump as much water out of the feeders and baths as you can and place them in the sun to dry. For stubborn cleaning jobs use a product like Poop-Off that is specially designed to remove bird droppings. Remember to pick up a bottle of Birdbath Protector that helps minimize algae growth and mineral and sludge deposits.

Bird Bath Brush
Poop-Off Bird 32 oz.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 oz Birdbath Protector
Best Long Brush

Bird Houses and Nesting  |  January 18, 2019

Housing Birds During Winter

SE934 Mounted Grass Roosting Pocket with Roof

Providing roosting spots for birds is important because it allows birds to escape the snow and wind they would face during the cold winter nights.

Birds use these roosting boxes or nesting pockets to huddle together to share body heat and stay warm. This allows the birds to also save energy which is vital for them during these difficult months. Boxes and pockets also keep the birds safe from predators they may incur during the night hours.

Natural materials, such as the ones used in the Songbird Essentials Roosting Pockets help keep birds safe from predators as they blend in with surrounding areas and do not attract unwanted attention.