It’s Bird Feeder Time by Susan Heath

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Posted by Joyce Rhyne on 19 Oct 17 - 0 Comments

With the first real cold front arriving this week, I am reminded that it’s time to get the bird feeders ready for winter. Feeding wild birds in the backyard is an experience enjoyed by many and it certainly helps the birds out too. Although many people feel they are helping birds survive by providing supplemental food for them it’s really not true. Except under exceptional conditions wild birds do just fine with the food provided by the natural environment. This year with all the hurricane impacts from flooding and wind damage to vegetation, it’s probably a good idea to help out the birds with some supplemental seed though. Birds, like most animals, are opportunists. Even if there is plenty of natural food, they will take advantage of getting an easy tidbit from a feeder rather than having to spend a lot of time foraging.

Make sure you clean your feeders well before putting them back out to avoid the spread of disease. The best way to clean them is to take them apart and scrub all the pieces. You can use ordinary soap and water if you can get to all the nooks and crannies but sometimes it’s good to soak them in a 10:1 water to bleach solution. Just make sure to rinse them thoroughly afterwards before putting seed in them again.

The coming frosts will bring an end to the flowering and fruiting season of many plants and end the adult lives of most insects, leaving the protected eggs, larvae, and pupae to ride out the winter tucked away in sheltered locations. Some birds will find them to feast on but as the winter progresses less and less natural food will be available and thus your feeder visitation will go up.

As always, it’s a good idea to leave a hummingbird feeder or two out in the winter. Along the Texas coast, we get many wintering hummingbirds from the western U.S. and keeping a feeder out is a great way to attract one to your yard. They will return to your yard winter after winter and it’s always fun to note when they return each year.

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