Here's an important article for those of you out in Cold Country:
Feathered Friends Need Your Help
The combination of sleet and cold has made many food sources impossible to reach and critical for many of the wild birds in Missouri. In normal winter conditions according to Holly Seaver, manager of Songbird Station in Columbia, most birds have ways of coping with the cold.
Seaver states, "To help survive cold nights, Chickadees can lower their normal 108 degree Fahrenheit body temperature by 12 to 15 degrees to conserve energy. By dawn, like many birds, they will quickly dart to a food source to fill their empty stomachs. That's why early morning and late evening are some of the 'largest crowds' at bird feeders. Because most normal food sources are now ice encrusted, birds need and greatly benefit by Central Missouri residents feeding them during times like this."
Seaver recommends, "People should feed hi-energy food like black oil sunflower seed, tree nut pieces and suet which give birds more energy per ounce consumed." Seaver continued, "While something is better than nothing, the problem with cheap mixes full of oats and wheat, or things like bread and cereal that consumers sometimes throw on the snow, is that they are not only low in energy, they are also the favorites of nuisance, non-native birds like Starlings and English Sparrows that compete not only for food, but also nesting cavities that many native birds utilize in winter to stay warm.
Several Central Missouri songbirds like Bluebirds and Chickadees often sleep in groups on extremely cold nights in cavities or nest boxes transferring heat from one body to the next. It's not uncommon for 6-9 Bluebirds to emerge from one box. A challenge of suet is Starlings love it." Seaver recommends, "Feed suet in upside down suet feeders and hang them high as Starlings have a hard time hanging upside down to feed and Woodpeckers, Chickadees, Titmice, Nuthatches, and other desirable songbirds can easily hang upside down for feeding."
Seaver adds, "One need of wild birds often overlooked by consumers in cold weather is the need for 'open water'." Seaver states, "The main reason water is needed is that to keep warm, birds fluff out their feathers so they can better capture a 'layer of air' that acts as heated insulation. Matted, dirty feathers can't be fluffed out, making a bird feel much like how a human feels that wears a down-insulated jacket that's all matted up and not very warm." Seaver states, "There are many bird bath heaters and heated bird baths for as little or less than $15 to help keep water available for wild birds and cost pennies per day in electricity to run."
Seaver concludes, "Can't get out to your feeders? Just fling a spray of black oil seeds or a good quality wild bird mix out of a bucket or trash can and let it fly out across the top of the ice. Dozens of your feathered friends will soon add brilliant flashes of red and blue, and gray and white across the snow and you'll hear their melodious songs as they sing 'thanks' to you for helping them survive."
For further information contact Mel Toellner, owner - 888.985.2473 - firstname.lastname@example.org
or Holly Seaver, manager of Songbird Station, 2010 Chapel Plaza Ct - 573.446.5941 -