Giving Birds a Helping Hand This Winter: Bird Expert Edi Crosby Gives Tips to Help Our Feathered Friends

Published Tuesday, December 9, 2014 at 2:53 pm

By Edi Crosby

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Editor’s Note: Edi Crosby is the owner of WingN’It, a local wild bird and gift store located in “The Red Caboose” in downtown Banner Elk.

“We have all you need to help keep birds fed and happy this winter,” Crosby said. “Along with bird seed, we have an exciting array of bird feeders and birdhouses for you to choose from.  We have the best wild bird feeder selection in the High Country!”

For more information about the shop, visit the website here or call 828-898-5008. Here is what Crosby has to say about keeping our feathered friends happy this season.

Dec. 9, 2014. One of the best ways to show your love for birds during the cold weather season is to provide food for them, when they cannot find a natural food supply. Feeding the birds is a rewarding and enjoyable hobby. Keep your feeders full since many birds will rely on it as a regular place to eat.

Clean off feeders, platforms and perches after each snowfall so deed is easily accessible. Leave nesting boxes and birdhouses up all year round to provide winter roosting sites.

Although birds are covered in layers of insulating feathers, they have a high metabolism and need plenty of food to stay warm and active. On cold, wintry days, most birds fluff up their feathers, creating air pockets, which help keep the birds warm. The more air spaces, the better the insulation. Some birds perch on one leg, drawing the other leg to the breast for warmth.

There are a couple of bird food staples that you will want to keep out year round. A mixed seed with black oil sunflower seed is the all-around go-to for backyard bird feeding. It will attract the widest variety of species to your yard. And remember – keep your thistle feeders out too. Goldfinches, Purple Finches, House Finches and Juncos will eat them all year round. Mine are covered as soon as the cold mornings set in!

Suet is one of the most important foods you can offer birds in winter. As we all know by now, birds need quality, high-calorie food all year long. In winter, birds can seek out seeds and berries that have remained on plants and trees, but finding sources of fat under a blanket of snow is almost impossible at a time when birds need this food the most. If squirrels are trying to eat your suet, try cakes containing hot pepper.

Peanuts will help attract Tufted Titmice, Blue Jays, Crows and will help you to manage your squirrel problem. If you are feeding birds you will attract squirrels, there is no doubt about that. So, why not make peace with the furry tailed rats by offering them peanuts? It beats them raiding your feeders, and, in some cases, destroying the feeders altogether.

Birds are much more likely to die from dehydration in cold weather than lack of food. People often overlook the need for fresh water, especially during the winter season. Although natural food sources are scarce during the winter, dehydration can be an even bigger threat to birds than starvation. With freezing cold temperatures ahead of us, we can give birds access to unfrozen water right in your backyards by providing a heated birdbath. If you already have a birdbath that you like, but it doesn’t keep the water from freezing in winter, you can add a de-cier, a heating element that sits down in the basin an is an economical way to transform your present birdbath into something that will function in winter. Heated bird baths are also available at local bird stores.

Wintering birds have done quite well in order to survive the coldest months. They’ve also learned to rely heavily upon humans for food, water and shelter. The more we chip in and help, the better their chances of survival.

 

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