Magazine article USA TODAY

Beckoning Birds to Your Backyard

Magazine article USA TODAY

Beckoning Birds to Your Backyard

Article excerpt

Winter is prime time for attracting birds. Beckoning them to your backyard at this juncture can be easier than in any other season. Food scarcity, cold temperatures, and severe storms push up bird mortality at this time of year. If you can meet their nutritional needs, you surely will be rewarded with a diverse, frequent flock of feathered friends.

Birding specialist Elaine Cole offers some tips to ensure birds will be welcomed visitors. For instance, foods high in oil and fat are the most popular winter picks. Black oil sunflower seeds, for instance, have slightly thinner shells and a higher oil content than other types of sunflower seeds, making them a more efficient and nutritious food. Offer them in platform, tube, or hopper feeders.

For maximum calories, suet is an optimum choice. There are no-melt suet cakes as well as specialty feed blends that add nuts, seed, and other enticing elements.

From jays and titmice to nuthatches and chickadees, many backyard birds love peanuts, a high-calorie, fat-rich food. Because peanuts do not freeze, they are perfect for winter feeding.

Niger, also known as thistle seed, is a favorite food for winter finches such as pine siskins, redpolls, and goldfinches. Another oily seed that offers lots of calories, niger helps birds store fat they need to keep warm.

A number of songbirds that favor fruit migrate in winter, but others stay in snowy areas year-round. Offer chopped apples, orange wedges, or banana slices on platform feeders, spikes, or nailed to trees. …

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