Wild Birds Unlimited Newsletter
~ For those passionate about birding and nature ~
November 2019                                                                                         Volume 11.19
  
Being seasonally savvy in the winter
 
Winter Chickadee
 
The life of a bird in the winter may not be as stress-free as many people think. You can help them by being seasonally savvy in winter. As winter approaches, many birds change some of their eating habits. Birds that usually eat insects may start to eat berries to supplement their diets. Birds will start to look for reliable sources of food for wintertime survival. And, in the fall, many birds began forming flocks. Flocks of birds are better able to find food and protect themselves from predators.
In much of North America, winter can be a difficult time for birds. The days are short, and nights are often cold and long. The natural food supply has been consumed or is hidden by snow. Most insects are dead or dormant. Water can be hard to find, and food needed to provide the energy to keep birds warm might be scarce. Finding shelter may not be easy. If there are limited natural evergreens or shelter, birds may seek man-made houses or habitats that can provide refuge from the winds, rains, ice or snow of winter.
Birds are warm-blooded. In general, this means that they maintain their body temperature within a certain range even when the temperature around them changes. The maintenance of body temperature within a normal range depends on the amount of heat the bird produces.
On cold, wintry days, most birds fluff up their feathers, creating air pockets, which help keep the birds warm. The more air spaces, the better the insulation. Some birds perch on one leg, drawing the other leg to the breast for warmth.
To keep up their high metabolic rate, most backyard birds eat rich, energy foods such as seeds, insects and suet. There are some times, however, when birds are not prepared to deal with sudden drops in temperature or sudden winter storms. At times like these, it is especially helpful to have feeders full so that birds can find food easily.
Providing Food for Birds in the Winter
As winter approaches, you may need to change some of the foods you offer to birds. Providing high calorie and high fat foods can be important to the birds. The birds visiting winter feeders may be arriving in flocks or may come to the feeders as individuals, so you will need to provide different options for the birds.
Feeders should be located out of the wind. The east or southeast side of a house or near a row of trees is ideal. It is best to have a perching spot such as a bush or tree for the birds to use to survey the feeding area and provide sufficient cover for safe refuge from predators and shelter from the wind and weather. The feeders should be positioned near cover but in the open to allow birds to watch for danger. For ground feeding, an area near cover with a clear view of the surroundings is desirable.
Placing seed in a ground feeder entices birds such as sparrows, juncos, Mourning Doves, quail, pheasants, towhees and Brown Thrashers. Even the Red-bellied Woodpecker, which is thought of as a tree dweller, does some foraging on the ground. Platform and hopper feeders are especially good for attracting cardinals, wrens, chickadees, titmice, jays, and grosbeaks. Hanging feeders, because they blow in the wind, are generally used by those species that are able to hang on while feeding such as chickadees, titmice, nuthatches and finches.
Oil sunflower is a great overall seed to offer in the winter. It has a high calorie/ounce ratio due to its high fat and protein content and its relatively thin shell. Oil sunflower has twice the calories per pound than striped sunflower and its smaller shells make less mess when discarded by the birds.
Suet is a great food to offer many of the birds that will visit backyards in the winter. Suet is a high energy, pure fat substance which is invaluable in winter when insects are harder to find and birds need many more calories to keep their bodies warm.
Suet can be fed in a variety of feeders ranging from a suet cage to a wood and cage feeder offering protection from the weather elements and designed to require the birds to hang upside down.
Peanuts are another great food to offer birds in the wintertime. Peanuts have high protein and fat levels and are often an ingredient in suet products. Offering peanuts in a peanut feeder can provide a good source of protein for birds.
Providing Water for Birds
Birds do need a source for water in the winter. You can help birds find water by providing an open source of water for the birds. Bird baths can provide a water source and should be heated to help prevent the whole bath from freezing. In areas where the weather can turn cold and possibly freeze the water in bird baths, a heater or heated birdbath can keep an area open in your bird bath.
It is always a good idea to cover ceramic bird baths to keep the water out in the winter. You can put out a plastic dish with an added heater or a bird bath with a built-in heater.
Some products can be kept out all winter, if the proper bird bath de-icers are used. Check with your Wild Birds Unlimited sales associate or the manufacturer about the best kind of heaters to use in bird baths and ponds.
Providing Cover for Birds
Roosting boxes or natural plant covers can also aid birds seeking protection from cold weather. Shelter is also needed for protection against natural predators, such as birds of prey. Cats are unnatural predators and birds also need shelter to escape from them. Be sure to clean out old nests from houses to help reduce the possibility of parasitic bugs surviving the winter. It also allows birds the opportunity to roost in a clean house.
To learn how to be seasonally savvy throughout the rest of the year, come visit one of our three Wild Birds Unlimited stores in Reno and Sparks, NV.
      
Happy Birding!
Carmel
 
  
 

Click here to go to the Moana Nursery Website for more information
 
Wild Birds Unlimited
$10 OFF
20# No Mess Blend Seed
reg retail $36.99
   
Don't forget to check out our current Moana Nursery Garden Specials
 
- SAVE THE DATE -
Raptor Demo & Receive 25% Off WBU items in shopping bag!

 

Meet and greet with Kathleen Tigan of Tactical Avian Predators and her amazing team of avian co-workers, including special guest Louise her Eurasian Eagle Owl. All who attend can fill a Moana shopping bag with WBU product & receive 25% off the entire purchase on that day ONLY. 

Come to: 1100 W. Moana Lane, in the Landscape & Design Center adjacent to the store
What is Caching?
In the fall chickadees, nuthatches, titmice and jays begin hiding food to retrieve and eat later in the season. This behavior is called "caching." Caching helps birds survive during bad weather and when food sources are low. These birds can store hundreds of seeds a day. Each seed is placed in a different location and they generally remember where each one is, even months later.

By providing a foundational feeder filled with their favorite foods, you can help your birds with their caching needs. Recent research has shown that a consistent and reliable source of food helps birds to build body fat reserves, reduces their physiological stress and helps to maintain a healthy body condition.

Chickadees prefer to cache black oil sunflower seeds; often eating a small portion before hiding it in and under bark, dead leaves, knotholes, clusters of pine needles, gutters, shingles and in the ground. Chickadees caches more in the middle of the day when visiting feeders.

 

Titmice are rather particular. They choose the largest sunflower seeds available to eat and cache. Titmice and chickadees like to cache seeds within 130 feet of bird feeders; your yard or a neighbor's yard. Often, they tuck seeds into the bark and crevices of a wood pile or on a large branch. They even cache them under mulch in a garden.

 

Nuthatches prefer heavier sunflower seeds over the lighter ones. Be sure to have some sunflower chips in your blend, too, as they like these 25% more than ones in the shell. They prefer to hide foods on deeply furrowed tree trunks and the underside of branches. Nuthatches are also known to hide seeds under a shingle or behind wooden siding.

 

Jays love to cache peanuts, sunflower seeds, acorns and pine nuts. They are especially fond of peanuts in the shell. They bury them in the ground and are known to cache about 100 in a day; emptying a feeder in no time. Watch for them make repeated trips to your feeders (or an oak or pine tree) and fly off. They can travel up to two miles to bury their nutritious treasure.

 

Visit your local WBU store to learn more about caching.


Winter SuperBlend Seed and Cylinders!
 
 

Winter SuperBlendâ„¢, our high fat seed blend, specifically formulated to provide birds the essential energy and fats needed to survive whatever winter throws at them. This super food is packed full of sunflower chips, pecans, peanuts, tree nuts, bark butter bits and nutrasaff.
 
 
Come by  and ask us about it today.
 
Upcoming Events


Lahontan Audubon Society

Friday, November 1  8:00am
  Field Trip - Oxbow Nature Study Area, Reno
 
Tuesday, November 5  6:00pm
  LAS Board meeting
 
Friday, November 15  8:00am
  Field Trip - Cottonwood Park, Sparks
 
Friday, November 22  8:00am
Field Trip - Davis Creek Park, Washoe
 

 
Nature Happenings

* Project Feeder Watch starts and extends until April, www.birds.cornell.edu/pfw
* An average of 10% of our rainfall falls in November.
* Temperatures can be cold this month with a freeze possible.
* Fall color is at its peak.
* Clean up those fallen leaves and dead fruit as they can harbor insect eggs and fungus spores over the winter.
* Deer are trying to eat as many acorns as possible to fatten-up before winter.
* Feeders get busier as the month progresses.
* Waterfowl migration peaks this month.
* Open water is important if there's an early freeze. Put up heated bird baths for a winter water source.
* Northern Flicker numbers are increasing. Put out a roosting box to prevent them from pecking on your house.
* Birds begin to flock.
* Bushtits come in large groups to suet feeders.
* Leonid meteor shower is mid-month.

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