Birds need a little TLC in winter

Cold weather and snow are making their seasonal appearances not only locally, but over much of Canada making it increasingly difficult for birds to find enough food. The Humane Society of Canada (HSC) says that people and birds both benefit when humans assist their feathered friends by supplying them with a continuous supply of quality bird feed.

  • Jan. 24, 2011 4:00 p.m.
Birds need a little TLC in winter

Cold weather and snow are making their seasonal appearances not only locally, but over much of Canada making it increasingly difficult for birds to find enough food. The Humane Society of Canada (HSC) says that people and birds both benefit when humans assist their feathered friends by supplying them with a continuous supply of quality bird feed.

“Millions of Canadians are bird lovers and over one-third of Canadian households report that they feed and watch birds,” says Al Hickey, Western Regional Director for The Humane Society of Canada (HSC).

 According to Hickey it is a good idea to learn what species of birds live in your area and then find out what types of feed would be good for them: “To learn about local species of birds and the foods they like you can talk to employees who sell bird feed as well as local nature and bird watching groups and animal protection organizations.”

It may take a while for birds to discover their new food source but they will find your bird feeder and gratefully return on a regular basis. However, it is important to ensure that once you start supplying local birds with food that you keep food in the feeder until the birds’ natural food supplies become plentiful once again in the spring.

Using bird identification books is a fun way to learn what birds are visiting your feeder. These books usually provide some general information about the various birds. A good set of binoculars will help you identify winged visitors and observing and learning about birds is a wonderful way for people of all ages to learn about and develop a greater respect for nature and our birds. 

Bird Feeding Tips

 • Select a feeder that is sturdy, easy-to-clean and which keeps seeds dry.

• Place feeders a minimum of 50 feet (preferably 100 feet) away from windows so that birds don’t fly into the windows.

• Place feeders where they will protect birds from the wind and predators.

• Use quality feed and store it in a clean, dry, airtight container. Make sure that the seed hasn’t gone bad. If it has gone bad dispose of it.

• Stamp down the snow underneath the feeder to help ground feeding birds like doves.

• Regularly clean the feeder. A solution of one part household vinegar to nine parts water can be used for plastic or metal feeders. These feeders should then be rinsed thoroughly with water and allowed to dry completely before being refilled. Chemicals should not be used to clean wooden feeders since wood is porous and can absorb chemicals. Clean wood feeders by scrubbing them thoroughly using hot, soapy water and then rinsing them with water.

• Local libraries contain books with simple plans on how to build bird houses

• When you brush your pets, you can leave the hair outside for birds to use as nesting material.

• Learn more about feeding birds. There is a good selection of books available and many Internet sites offer good information.

• It is safer for both your cat and birds if your feline friends are kept indoors, or if they go outside, make sure you go with them.