February is for the Birds: National Bird Feeding Month

February is for the Birds: National Bird Feeding Month

bird feeding monthThe spring thaw is on the horizon. Mankind isn’t the only species glad to see warmer weather, many species of birds will be happy, too. The wild birds in your backyard use a lot of their energy staying warm during the winter so finding enough food to fuel them is a constant struggle. In 1994, Illinois Congressman John Porter designated February as National Bird Feeding month in order to stress the importance of helping birds survive by supplementing their natural diet. Filling a bird feeder and watching the birds is one of the easiest ways to enjoy wildlife without leaving your home. It is also a great chance to teach children about nature.

Before you choose a bird feeder, remember that different species prefer different kinds of feeders. The platform and hopper style bird feeders are popular because they attract a large variety of species. A platform feeder is basically a flat tray. Make certain the one you select provides adequate drainage. A hopper feeder, on the other hand, is shaped like a house and has see-through slat walls with a small trough along the bottom.  The birdseed in a hopper is enclosed which helps protect it from the elements.

If you want to maximize the amount of birds you attract, you could add several types of feeders and several types of food. Suet feeders attract woodpeckers, nectar feeders attract hummingbirds, ground feeders attract mourning doves and robins, and tube feeders attract smaller birds like finches. When it comes to the birdseed, a seed mix may be a good place to start because it provides for a large variety of birds. Sunflower seeds, peanuts, and suet are great to put out in the winter and early spring to provide a good source of energy. Birdseed in any style of feeder should be changed if it is exposed to the elements, bird droppings, or mold.

All bird feeders attract predators so it helps to have feeders near a bush, tree, or brush pile. Another measure to protect the birds is to put bird strike prevention decals in any nearby windows or hang streamers outside. It is also worthwhile to space your bird feeders away from each other as some species are loners and others are bullies.

bird feeding monthIf you are feeling eager to get started today, here are two temporary bird feeders to make at home with some organic, dye free twine and items you may have around your house including peanut butter, bagles, and birdseed. First is the iconic pinecone feeder. To start, you collect pinecones. Get them from your yard if you can, otherwise make sure the pinecones are untreated. Next you spread peanut butter all over the pinecones and then roll them in birdseed. To finish off, take a bit of the organic, dye free twine and tie it to the pinecone and then hang it up outside. Another simple feeder is the traditional Stale Bagel bird feeder. If you have a bagel that you aren’t going to eat, stick some organic, dye free twine through the large natural hole and then tie the ends together to create a loop. Spread peanut butter all over your bagel. Next sprinkle the bird seed all over the areas with peanut butter.  If you want, you can do both sides, although that gets messy. Lastly, hang this outside and the birds might use the leftover twine to make a nest in the spring. Just make sure you dispose of the bagel if it becomes moldy.

Enjoy National Bird Feeding month and remember that you can continue bird feeding or bird watching year round!

Bird Feeding Resourcesbird feeding month

Here are a few books you might check out if you are interested in bird feeding or watching.