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postheadericon One of the harshest facts about the winter months, especially in the northern states, is that many factors combine to make it hard for birds to find food

One of the harshest facts about the winter months, especially in the northern states, is that many factors combine to make it hard for birds to find food.  First, there is just less of it.  Plants that many birds might feed on, such as berries, have just stopped producing in many areas, and those birds that like to feed on the insect population will find that there it has pretty much disappeared, either dying out or hibernating during the cold months.  So finding a good source of food is a challenge.

The other thing to keep in mind is that because birds are warm blooded, and wintertime is so much colder, they need a very high source of energy to keep warm enough to survive.  Much of the bird seed available these days doesn’t really provide much in the way of calories or energy.  That’s why suet feeders are a favorite for winter time bird feeders.

Suet is raw beef fat, typically taken from around the kidneys and loins. Because of its high fat content it is very high in energy.  Suet is one of the best foods to attract nuthatches, woodpeckers, wrens, titmice, chickadees, thrashers, cardinals, bluebirds and many other types of birds.  And, as usual with bird feeders, it can attract some less desirable wildlife like starlings and squirrels.  So, if these are a problem, you may want to use a suet feeder with a cage, and for starlings try a feeder covered on all sides but the bottom, which will feed many other birds but discourage starlings.

Depending on the type of suet you use, it can start to melt and go rancid at temperatures above 70 degrees F, so take care to empty after the spring thaw.

Another thing to keep in mind is the wintertime need for water.  Obviously, with freezing temperatures, the availability of water outdoors will drop, and a typical bird bath will freeze over fairly quickly since they are designed to be shallow.

There are many heated bird baths, but probably the easiest way to solve this problem is to add a bird bath heater to your existing bath.  Make sure that the bird bath is made from a material that can take the heat, some resins may melt.  Also be sure that the heater has a thermostat so it won’t overheat the water as well.

With a few simple steps like this, you can make sure that the birds in your yard are going to make it through the winter.

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