(See last paragraph for details on the Great Backyard Bird Count).
While some birds migrate south for the winter, more species are ‘overwintering’ here due to climate change and milder winter months.
TO FEED OR NOT TO FEED
Before you even decide whether to put out supplemental food for your backyard birds, the thing that is most important is a clean, unfrozen source of water. You should change the water every 3 to 4 days in winter (more often in summer due to bacterial growth). The use of a plug in de-icer (available in our shop) will keep the water from freezing. You will be amazed at how much activity takes place at the bird bath. Put it where you can enjoy the show.
So, should you feed them or let them fend for themselves? There are different points of view, but recent studies suggest that supplemental feeding does increase survival rates for birds in the winter.
WHAT SHOULD I KNOW?
Of course, the more natural the sources of food the better, so before you even buy bird food, look around your yard and try to improve what is there naturally for them. If you have native grasses, leave them standing with their seeds until spring; do the same with native perennials; also plant bushes like bayberry, juniper and winterberry to provide nutritious support for your birds in winter.
When deciding on supplemental food, choose a variety, including sunflower seed, safflower and nyger seed (thistle seed); and suet loaded with nuts and berries. Avoid low-quality mixed seed that is full of millet. Birds just spit most of it out to get at the good stuff.
GREAT BACKYARD BIRD COUNT
Participate from February 17 to the 20th. Take 15 minutes and record all the birds you see in your yard. Go to https://gbbc.birdcount.org/ to register and record your count. You will be joining hundreds of people across Long Island in the annual effort to quantify the number and types of birds in our region. And it’s fun!