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Humming Birds | Winter Is The Best Time To Feed The Birds

Posted By: junmar

RICHMOND – Fall is here and winter’s not far behind and, if you’ve been feeding the birds all summer, now’s not the time to stop!

Kentucky is blessed with a wide variety of our feathered friends. There are blue jays, cardinals, finches, mocking birds, chickadees, humming birds, sparrows, robins, woodpeckers and many others too numerous to mention.

While some species head farther south to warmer climes for the winter, many winter over, and if you’ve been feeding them through the warmer months they have come to see your yard as a food source, so you’ve got what amounts to an almost moral obligation to see that they continue to have food through the bleak months of winter, when their natural food sources are considerably reduced.

Bird feeders come in an almost endless variety of shapes, sizes and configurations. We like to hang ours from the trees in our front yard so that we can watch the birds as they flock for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

We’re fortunate to have very few squirrels around our property. Luckily, the squirrels seem to congregate down the road, where walnut trees are plentiful, so there’s no need for them to make nuisances of themselves by getting into our feeders.

If you like to feed the birds but not the squirrels, take heart! There are some things you can do to discourage the furry little burglars.

One trick is to spike your bird food with cayenne pepper. What a lot of people don’t know is the birds have no taste sense for “hot,” while squirrels do. That means that while your feathered buddies can go on dining on their favorite seed, the squirrels will have a very hard time of it and learn to shun your feeder.

Another thing you can do to keep the squirrels away is to mount your feeder on a pole with a squirrel baffle (a round metallic collar on the pole) that keeps the squirrels from climbing the pole.

Take care, however! Squirrels are ingenious and persistent, so keep your pole feeder away from trees and even buildings, including your house. Determined squirrels will climb the tree or the building and leap onto the feeder, by-passing your baffle. These creatures can be so persistent, that I have seen them jump from a house, often landing on the ground, but trying again and again until they hit their target!

When considering what to feed your birds, a wild bird food mix is a good choice. It gives you the smaller seeds, along with a mixture of larger ones, like sunflower seeds. This lets your feathered friends pick and choose what they want, according to the particular needs of each species.

It’s also a good idea to hang suet cakes, a particular favorite of carnivorous birds, like woodpeckers (which do winter over in Kentucky) from your trees in a special cage-like feeder that holds the suet cakes.

There are few pastimes as pleasant as sitting on your front porch with a cup of hot coffee during the warmer months to watch the various species of birds flock to your feeders, observe their antics and listen to their melodious songs.

Likewise, it’s a delight to look out your window on a wintry day to watch a bright red male cardinal against a white snowy or evergreen background picking at the seeds you’ve put out for winter sustenance.

If you have a birdbath, it’s a good idea to keep it filled with water for thirsty birds during the wintertime, especially if you don’t live near a flowing stream that doesn’t freeze up in the winter.

Keep providing for your feathered friends all year round, and you’ll have a loyal following in both the warm and cold Kentucky months!

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