Tuesday, September 02, 2008

For the Birds: Feed ‘em in Fall to Welcome Them Back in Winter

(ARA) - Humans aren’t the only ones who look forward to the autumn harvest. Fall brings a bounty of natural foods for our feathered friends, too. But while they’re feasting on fall’s cornucopia of delicacies, birds are also planning ahead, taking note of yards with bird feeders that can help them weather winter’s cold.

Many of birds’ favorite foods are actually more abundant in the fall. Summer weeds ripen with seeds by October. Many berries only begin to emerge in late summer or early winter, and insects are plentiful. You may think there’s no need to feed your feathered friends during the fall, but if you want them to find your home in the winter, start feeding them in autumn.

The birds who visit feeders in the fall are scouting, becoming familiar with feed stations and making decisions about which back yards they’ll visit this winter. The feed you put out in the fall will let birds know they’ll be welcomed and fed in your back yard when serious cold weather arrives – and they no longer have the luxury of exploring for food.

Winter weather is hard on birds. Their calorie requirements increase, food becomes hard to find, snow covers up seeds, and ice storms seal away the tree buds and wild fruits. Tiny birds must eat a third to three quarters of their weight each day. When the temperature dips below zero, easy meals at a feeder can mean the difference between life and death.

An important rule of fall and winter feeding is to be prepared. By stocking up now on premium bird seed, bird lovers can help secure a wholesome food source for birds without having to brave stormy weather.

It’s important to stock your feeder with high-quality foods that will provide birds with the most fat, nutrients and energy. Look for a feed like Cole's that packs nutrition, preserves freshness and gives you the most feed for your dollar. Cole's Oil Sunflower is more than 99 percent pure and cleaned four times to ensure there are more seeds and fewer sticks in each bag. The feed is also nitrogen-purge packaged, just like potato chips, to ensure freshness and insect-free feed.

In addition to seed, serve up some suet either by itself or mixed with seed. Cole's Nutberry Suet is a seed blend mix of premium fruits, preferred nuts, nutritious insect suet kibbles, and whole kernel sunflower meats, which appeals to fruit and insect-loving songbirds. Or try Suet Pearls, which features sunflower seeds buried inside energy-rich suet. Suet Nuts is a nourishing blend of peanuts and berry suet that birds find delectable. These feed choices will provide fat and a high protein energy source to assist wild birds in weathering winter and may actually boost their chance of survival.

Just as birds need food year-round, they also look for water. This can be tricky in regions where water spends the winter as ice, but bird lovers can still help in a number of ways. Experts suggest leaving icicles on the eaves to provide a regular source of water for birds that will drink the drops as the icicles melt. Birds are drawn to running water sounds so spritzers or small fountains are also good. In the winter there are many quality bird bath heaters available to keep the water from freezing and they are more convenient than setting out water every day.

Don't worry about the birds if you have to be gone from your home for a while in winter. Birds are used to having a food source disappear. It might take them a while to rediscover your yard when you return, but they'll be back, grateful for your assistance.

For more ideas on how to help birds eat well through winter, and feed choices visit www.coleswildbird.com.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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