Spring may be less than 8 weeks away in Dayton, but the wild birds are still struggling to find enough food to sustain them during these bitter winter days. Many people feed birds in the warmer months, but those are the very months when birds should be devouring bugs in the garden and eating weed seeds! Food for the wild birds is much more abundantly available in the spring, summer and autumn. During the winter, the wild birds must endure the longer, cold nights at a time when their natural food supplies have either frozen or died off. Insect larvae lie dormant until spring.
Birds have a very high metabolism anyway, and require large amounts of food to sustain them; cold winter weather increases their need for food in order to maintain this high metabolism in order to keep warm. Smaller birds are at higher risk, as their heart rate is faster and their little bodies can only produce small amounts of energy at a time.
Birds endure changing temperatures by regulating their body heat; in the winter, this is dependent upon finding enough food to maintain their body metabolism. If they do not find enough food each day to convert into energy and maintain their body heat all night, their body temperature drops. In cold weather, a drop in body temperature can mean hypothermia and possibly death.
If one of our sudden winter storms hit before the birds have ingested enough food for the day, a quick meal from the feeder can save their lives. Providing food for the birds reduces their burden in the winter, helps ensure that they will survive the cold night and allows them to rest up for the next winter day.
Most backyard birds enjoy seeds in the winter, but the best choices will have a high fat or oil content to provide maximum energy for winter survival. These include choices such as black oil sunflower seed, hulled peanuts, niger (thistle) seed, peanut butter, millet seed and suet with seeds or fruit mixed in.
Consider a trip to a local provider of bird feed and feeders, such as A Bird’s Paradise in the 2nd Street Market. Rachel will be happy to talk with you about what sorts of birds you are feeding or wish to attract, and can help you select the right type of food and feeders. Your backyard birds will repay your kindness by devouring your harmful garden bugs and eating the weed seeds in the spring!
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