We've gotten phone calls; we've gotten e-mails; we've had people stop into the store... "Where are all the birds???" The simple answer is: They don't need us. Think about it. We have had unusually warm weather. There are still lots of bugs flying around because of the warm weather. It was an excellent growing season this year & all those wild flowers have gone to seed... lots of seed. A large part of a bird's diet is natural food. Feeder food is like a fast food restaurant: easy in, easy out when you need a quick bite to eat. The bird's diet is also based on temperature, the colder the temperature, the more calories they have to eat to survive. Even the nights have been fairly warm! So really, there isn't anything serious happening with the birds.
Now is a good time to clean your feeder because the bird activity is low. A bucket of hot, soapy water does wonders for the looks of those feeders AND it is healthier for the birds to keep your feeders clean. A clean feeder is less apt to spread avian diseases.
So while you and the birds are enjoying the warm weather, take the time to clean those feeders! Your feeders will be ready for those birds when they finally decide it's time to stop in & see what's for dinner? The colder weather IS coming..
Bothered by pesky starlings? Here are a few solutions. The average starlings are too big to get into feeders with cages around them. The Droll Yankees Model #SDC and the Stckes Squirrel Proof Double Suet Feeder should keep them out but the smaller birds can get in i.e. chickadees, finches, titmice. Woodpeckers have extremely long tongues. The larger woodpeckers can actually stick their heads in the cage & use their tongues to get the suet. If you don't want to buy a new feeder, switching your seed to safflower only will deter the starlings & other blackbirds. Most other birds will eat safflower & it is a favorite seed of the Northern Cardinal.
When do you stop feeding the birds? April is a strange month. It can be cold, it can be warm. To determine when to stop feeding you need to think about what kind of winter we have had. A very snowy winter will have covered natural foods so birds may come to the feeders more often during the winter. When the snow melts, there is natural food available & the birds don’t need the feeders. A mild winter with little snow allows the birds to eat everything in sight. As the natural food becomes scarce, birds may come to the feeders more often until warm weather prevails. 80% – 90% of a bird’s diet is natural food. Your feeder is an easy way to get food in a pinch, similar to a fast food restaurant. Combine the scarcity of food with the migratory birds coming back to the area & it’s easy to see that the birds may be more stressed this year & come to the feeders more often. Also the birds need to eat more when the temperatures dip into the 30’s than when the temperatures are 40-50’s. My suggestion is if you are going to stop feeding, feed through the month of April. That way you have all the bases covered. OR you can just feed the birds all year like I do. A quick word about water…. If you have taken the heaters OUT of your baths because of the mild weather, beware of the temperature drop during the next week. We replace a lot of bird bath tops this time of year due to breakage when the water freezes.
I have been watching birds since a small child when I shared the joy of birdfeeding with my grandparents. In 1988 my passion evolved into Backyard Birds Nature Shop.