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Taking action now can reduce bear problems later

Property owners can help prevent problems with bears by removing food sources like bird feeders now.

With longer daylight hours and warming temperatures causing wildlife to start to move, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources advises property owners that now is the time to look around and see if they have items that soon may be attracting bears.

“The ideal situation is for a bear to walk past your property, not find a food reward and move along on its own,” said DNR wildlife communication coordinator Katie Keen. “That’s the best way to live with bears and not encourage conflict.”

Black bears—an “up north” Michigan icon decorating many homes, restaurants and hotels—can be found throughout more than half the state. Spotting a bear tends to draw a lot of interest and attention. 

“Everyone picks up the phone to call us looking for advice at a different point,” Keen said. “For some, seeing a black bear is enough. For others, it may be regular or daytime visits that make them uneasy.”

Bears find birdseed and suet especially attractive, as they are high-calorie and reliable compared to other plentiful and natural food sources. Bird feeders can draw bears past their natural habitat, where they would normally be enjoying roots of early spring plants and insects in trees and logs. Bears also typically will continue to return to a location once they have found a food reward there.

“The majority of calls we receive about bears involve a bird feeder. Taking the feeders down before they are found by a bear can eliminate future problems,” said Keen. “A bear doesn’t just forget an easy meal, and wild animals can pick up habits.”  

During the spring and early summer, phone calls to the DNR from home and business owners frustrated with bear activity increase. While it is legal to feed birds, property owners may be creating an irreversible safety issue by providing food for bears. 

“Bears that receive a food reward when around homes, yards and neighborhoods typically lose their natural fear of humans and can become a potential threat to people and their pets,” Keen added.

The easiest thing people can do to avoid problems with bears is remove bird feeders during the spring and summer months. With an estimated 2,000-plus adult bears in the northern Lower Peninsula and almost 10,000 in the Upper Peninsula, there are plenty of bears searching for natural food that is plentiful in forests, fields and wetlands.

“Many people who live in northern Michigan remove their bird feeders during the spring and summer, but every year the spring sneaks up on us and suddenly, it is now that time of year,” said Keen. 

Wild animals should be appreciated from a distance. Michigan residents can help their neighborhoods and communities by removing bird feeders and other attractants. Garbage cans, dumpsters, barbeque grills, restaurant grease bins and bee hives also can attract bears to areas people frequent.

For your safety, never intentionally feed or try to tame bears – it is in your, and the bear’s, best interest. It is critical that bears retain their natural fear of humans.

Learn more about Michigan’s black bears and how to prevent potential problemsby visiting michigan.gov/bear or by watching “The Bear Essentials” video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6c1c3qw7dg.

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Spring birding tours at Michigan’s Wetland Wonders 

Red-winged blackbirds are some of spring’s first arrivals at Michigan’s Wetland Wonders.

Nothing says spring like the “conk-a-ree” call of a red-winged blackbird or the raucous sounds of a sandhill crane. Celebrate spring and explore Michigan’s wetlands with a birding tour at one of the Wetland Wonders – or managed waterfowl areas – around the state.

Highlights of the birding tours may include diving and dabbling ducks in full breeding plumage, trumpeter and tundra swans, osprey, bald eagles, sandhill cranes, and many others. Michigan Department of Natural Resources wildlife staff members and volunteers from Ducks Unlimited and Audubon Clubs will lead the tours, which may include a “sneak peek” driving tour into refuge areas that normally are closed. 

The birding tours will be held on the following dates:

  • March 17 at 8 a.m. – St. Clair Flats State Wildlife Area, 3857 Columbine Road, Harsens Island; 810-748-9504 
  • March 24 at 9 a.m. – Fish Point State Game Area, 7750 Ringle Road, Unionville; 989-674-2511
  • March 31 at 9 a.m. – Fennville Farm Unit of the Allegan State Game Area, 6013 118th Ave., Fennville; 269-673-2430
  • April 7 at 9 a.m. – Maple River State Game Area, southwest corner of South Baldwin and Crapo roads in Washington Township, east of U.S. 127; 616-446-0555
  • April 7 at 9 a.m. – Shiawassee River State Game Area, 225 East Spruce St., St. Charles; 989-865-6211
  • April 14 at 9 a.m. – Muskegon County Wastewater System, meet at the Muskegon State Game Area Office, 7600 E. Messinger Road, Twin Lake; 231-788-5055
  • April 14 at 9 a.m. – Pointe Mouillee State Game Area, 37025 Mouillee Road, Rockwood; 734-379-9692
  • April 14 at 9 a.m. – Nayanquing Point State Wildlife Area, 1570 Tower Beach Road, Pinconning; 989-697-5101

If you have questions about bird tours, please contact the appropriate office at the phone number listed above. Most tours will meet at the area’s headquarters building. Please dress for the weather and bring binoculars. Spotting scopes are also helpful for long-range viewing. The ground may be quite muddy and wet, so plan to wear boots. 

Michigan’s Wetland Wonders are the seven premier managed waterfowl hunt areas in the state: Fennville Farm Unit at the Allegan State Game Area (Allegan County), Fish Point State Wildlife Area (Tuscola County), St. Clair Flats State Wildlife Area on Harsens Island (St. Clair County), Muskegon County Wastewater Facility (Muskegon County), Nayanquing Point State Wildlife Area (Bay County), Pointe Mouillee State Game Area (Monroe and Wayne counties) and Shiawassee River State Game Area (Saginaw County). To learn more about Michigan’s Wetland Wonders, visit michigan.gov/wetlandwonders

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Bird nest boxes


By Ranger Steve Mueller


It is time to clean nest boxes. Bird behavior announces they are claiming breeding territory. It is beautiful music to our ears when we hear the variety of songs in our neighborhood. In bird neighborhoods, songs announce property boundaries and call for mates. 

Within a given breeding territory, appropriate nesting space is essential. Many species require cavities in hollow trees. People have a habit of removing dead and hollow trees for a variety of reasons. To maintain adequate cavity nest opportunities, install nest boxes in a variety of habitats. 

Most well-known are Eastern Bluebird and Tree Swallow nest boxes. If not placed well they are taken over by House Wrens or House Sparrows that frequently kill bluebirds and swallows. 

At the Howard Christensen Nature Center, I made sure the nest boxes were a considerable distance from shrubbery. When placed in open areas, the House Sparrows and House Wrens usually did not interfere with the open field nesting species. Tree Swallows compete with bluebirds for nest boxes. That problem can be reduced by placing two nest boxes within 15 feet of each other. A Tree Swallow that claims one box does not allow other Tree Swallows to use the nearby box. The swallow will allow bluebirds to use it. In effect the swallow protects the bluebirds from being driven out by swallows when two boxes are placed near one another.

Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary’s field has experienced plant succession with the invasion of native shrubs and trees. The shrubs have driven swallows out and bluebirds have not used some boxes meant for them. We have begun clearing shrubs and trees from the field to create more open habitat. Hopefully we will once again entice swallows and keep the bluebirds nesting here. In one area where bluebirds stopped nesting, I cleared an area around the nest box and the next year bluebirds began using the box again. 

Birds like Black-capped Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, and White-breasted Nuthatches nest in cavities in wooded areas. I place houses in the woods for their consideration. Birdhouse boards are often about a half inch thick. We have placed predator guards on the boxes. It is an additional board that makes the entrance hole about one inch deep. Animals, like raccoons that reach in, cannot bend their leg to reach the eggs or young birds. 

The boxes are placed in locations away from heavy human traffic. When close to human activity, birds are often alarmed and leave the nest box when people approach. It interrupts egg incubation. 

Many designs offer selection options for nesting. The entrance hole size is important to prevent unwanted species from entering. Sometimes wrens, that are smaller than bluebirds, enter and kill bluebirds. Instead of a round or oval opening, a rectangular slit is used. It allows the bluebird to escape instead of being trapped by an invading wren. If an entrance hole is too large, European Starlings can enter and kill resident birds. 

Last year’s nest material should be removed from boxes so birds can start fresh with new materials that are fungus and parasite free. Cleaning nest boxes removes health hazards like mice turds or bird droppings. Wear rubber gloves and a facemask for your own protection when cleaning nests. Mice often occupy nest boxes during the winter and they can carry diseases to avoid like Hantavirus. 

One time near the edge of an invading forest, I found Southern Flying Squirrels using one of the nest boxes. Having lots of nest boxes provides opportunities for many species to nest. It is a joy to serve nature niche needs for a diversity of animals. 

Carrol Henderson wrote a book titled Woodworking for Wildlife. It is available from the Minnesota DNR. It provides the plans for making different wildlife nest boxes. If you haven’t cleaned nest boxes this spring, I recommend completing the task before the end of March. Install more boxes to provide nesting cavities.

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at odybrook@chartermi.net – Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary, 13010 Northland Dr. Cedar Springs, MI 49319 or call 616-696-1753.

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Otters spotted in Bass Lake

Photo by Gina Stump

It’s not often you get to see a river otter in our neck of the woods. Gail Davis, of Spencer Township, sent us these photos taken by her neighbor, Gina Stump, of otters frolicking in Bass Lake. 

Photo by Gina Stump

“We’ve had otters on the ice for the last week,” she wrote. “The ice was melting off in front of our house and we watched four otters popping in and out of holes until all the ice melted. Yesterday another neighbor counted 5. They still had ice in front of their house. We’ve watched them here before but it’s been years.”

Gail also said she had a video of an eagle that landed on the ice next to a hole where an otter was eating a fish, but the otter dove into the water before the eagle landed.

The greatest population of otters in our state is in upper and northern Lower Michigan, with a lower density to the south.

According to animaldiversity.org, North American river otters are found anywhere there is a permanent food supply and easy access to water. They can live in freshwater and coastal marine habitats, including rivers, lakes, marshes, swamps, and estuaries. River otters can tolerate a variety of environments, including cold and warmer latitudes and high elevations. North American river otters seem to be sensitive to pollution and disappear from areas with polluted waters.

They are excellent swimmers and divers, and able to stay underwater for up to 8 minutes. They are also fast on land, and capable of running at up to 18 mph/hr. Otters normally hunt at night, but can be seen at all times of day. They normally eat aquatic organisms (fish, turtle, crabs, amphibians, etc.) and usually take slow, non-game fish, such as suckers.

Otters mate in late winter or early spring. Other than that, males and females do not associate. They can last 8 or 9 years in the wild.

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Signs of spring

Red-winged blackbird. Photo by Pamela Cooke

While the weather in March cannot seem to make up its mind, there are definitely signs of spring all around us.

Red-winged blackbird

Pamela Cooke, of Nelson Township, sent us this photo of a male red winged blackbird leaving one of her feeders. “My dad always said a red-winged blackbird is truly a sign that spring is on its way,” she said. And she’s right. According to learner.org, the red-winged blackbird, robins, earthworms, emerging leaves, and maple sap running, are all signs that spring is right around the corner. 

During February, red-wings that breed in Canada and the northern US are in the southern US, feeding on grain, putting on fat, and starting to migrate north. March is the peak male migration and when territorial behavior begins. Females arrive behind males. Thanks for the photo, Pamela!

Photo by Tia Powell


Last week we received a robin photo from Jennifer August, of Solon Township. This week we received one from Tia Powell, of Nelson Township. She said she spotted it near 18 Mile and Pine Lake. Thank you, Tia!

We know from Ranger Steve Mueller that certain robins may stay the winter. According to the Michigan State University Extension, The vast majority of robins do move south in the winter. However, some stick around—and move around—in northern locations. And not all robins that winter in Michigan will stay to nest and breed in the summer. Robins tend to move around in response to food rather than temperature. In the winter they eat fruit; when the ground starts to thaw, they eat earthworms and insects. They don’t come back because weather is warm; they come back because food is available (which often coincides with warmer weather).

Post photo by L. Allen.

Maple tree sap

Publisher Lois Allen took this photo of maple trees being tapped on 18 Mile near Tisdel last weekend. Each tap will produce about 10 gallons, enough for about a quart of pure Michigan maple syrup. 

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Modes of Animal Behavior


Ranger Steve will present an interactive program addressing audience questions about animal behavior and will share stories about experiences with animals. Displayed animal mounts will provide attendees the opportunity for close examination of animals. This popular program includes audience participation for asking questions of personal interest. The presentation will last one hour. Time will be provided before and after the presentation to explore displays and ask additional questions. 

Program: Modes of Animal Behavior

Location: Howard Christensen Nature Center (HCNC), 16160 Red Pine Dr., Kent City, MI 49330

Date: 24 March 2018

Time: 9 a.m.

Cost: $3 per person (HCNC members free) 

Presenter: Ranger Steve (Mueller)

You can become an HCNC member that day and waive the program fee. Many activities are provided at no additional cost throughout the year for members. 

Enter the main entrance for HCNC and park near the Welcome center. Walk the Ranger Trail to the Red Pine Interpretive Center past Tadpole Pond. Handicap parking is available next to the building by entering the service drive north of the main entrance. 

Bring family and friends for a great Saturday morning to enjoy learning about animal behavior. 

Ranger Steve was director at HCNC for 20 years before becoming director at Wittenbach/Wege Agri-science and Environmental Education Center in Lowell. Prior work included being a ranger naturalist at Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah; college instructor at Bemidji State University, Brainerd Community College, and Jordan College; Chief naturalist for Morningside Nature Center in Gainesville Florida; and a middle and high school teacher in Dry Ridge Kentucky, Kenosha, Wisconsin, and Manistique, Michigan. 

Currently he is the sanctuary ecologist at Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary where he guides management to enhance biodiversity. He writes a nature niche column for newspapers and conservation organization newsletters. 

His varied experiences provided opportunity to learn in many ecosystems across the country with opportunities to experience close encounters with animals he studied. He has discovered a new species and range extensions for species in remote areas that lacked adequate study. 

Directions: US 131 north from Grand Rapids to Exit 104. West on M-46 (17 Mile Rd.) about 6 miles to Red Pine Drive, north on Red Pine Dr. about 3 miles to HCNC. Park by the Welcome Center and walk trail to Red Pine Interpretive Center. Consider staying after the program to enjoy some of the 7 miles of trails. 

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at odybrook@chartermi.net – Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary, 13010 Northland Dr. Cedar Springs, MI 49319 or call 616-696-1753.

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Wolf under my skin

Gray wolf howling. From Wikipedia.

By Ranger Steve Mueller


I wish I garnered reader excitement from insect nature niche articles like my “Hidden Mountain Lion” article did. After the lion article was published in newspapers, I received a phone call from Missoula, Montana with praise for the article. An Ann Arbor resident e-mailed, “You encapsulated so many excellent points so eloquently, Steve. It reminded me of a sign in Alaska that I just learned of: “Welcome to the bottom of the food chain!” In this era when we humans are loathe to take responsibility for our own actions, you nailed it and even wagged a cautionary finger about blaming the animal. Thank you.”  

In that article I stated, “It was wonderful to be a part of nature instead of being apart from nature”. 

The Montana resident used a search engine for key words and found the article. It is nice to be widely read. I also received positive comment from Sarasota, Florida.

Writing about wolves and lions brings positive, negative, and conflicting emotions. I have been fortunate to encounter wolves and bears in wild country but only lion tracks and scat. Those experiences remain fresh and alive. It is impossible to share feelings such encounters create. I have seen people act foolishly around bears and realized that if a mother bear lashed out at those that did not provide the lawful space required, it would be the bear that would be punished and likely euthanized. The people walked closer than lawful to a sow with two cubs in Grand Teton National Park despite me calling a warning for them to stop. 

I witnessed similar erroneous human behavior with elk. More people are killed by elk than bears and lions combined. In the case of wolves, there has never been a case of wolves attacking humans in the United States. 

Yellowstone National Park wolves are accustomed to people at a distance. They are protected in the park from harm and approach. Killing wolves outside the park is now permitted. One radio-collared research wolf was outside the park with her pack. She and a male saw a person but being used to people they only watched him. The man wanted a wolf pelt. He shot the female that watchers and researchers have observed for 6.5 years. 

The pack did not leave but circled around the dead female and howled. The man departed and returned with a handgun, in case the wolves tried to stop him from skinning her body of its pelt. He showed the author of the book American Wolf the pelt and said he did not regret killing the wolf and would do it again. 

Massive numbers of people visited Yellowstone with hopes of seeing that wolf in the wild. She was referred to as the most famous wolf in the world. She and her pack resided where people could frequently see them. Like many others, the man who shot her does not like wolves living in the ecosystem.  

There is a time and place when it is appropriate to kill wolves. When they attack domestic animals, it is best to remove those with such behavior. Defenders of Wildlife reimburses livestock owners when wolves take unsupervised free ranging livestock in national forests or those on private property. Fortunately, wolf killing of domestic animals is not rampant. Wild elk populations continue to thrive where wolves strengthen the herd. My 2014 wolf articles explained how wolves helped restore ecosystem health in the Yellowstone Ecosystem.

Wolves returned to Michigan, Wisconsin, and have maintained a wild population in Minnesota and Canada. I have been fortunate to encounter wolves in both Michigan and Canada and watched wolves in Yellowstone. The greatest emotional response was when I was conducting butterfly research in the Upper Peninsula and a wolf appeared. It watched me momentarily and disappeared. A similar experience occurred in Canada. The UP encounter was with a wolf that did not trust human presence and was a truly wild nature niche experience.

My “Wilderness Unique Treasure” program exemplifies the nature of wolves and wilderness as an essential part of the human spirit to be protected if we hope to pass on a vestige of the wild we inherited to future generations. 

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at odybrook@chartermi.net – Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary, 13010 Northland Dr. Cedar Springs, MI 49319 or call 616-696-1753.

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First female conservation officer honored during Women’s History Month

Huldah Neal led an interesting life and is shown here in her later years. As the nation’s first female game warden, Neal patrolled Grand Traverse County on foot, horseback and in a rowboat to enforce the state’s fish and game laws. She not only had an immediate impact on the rampant poaching that plagued her area, but also opened the door for future generations of women to serve as conservation officers. (Photo courtesy of the Traverse Area District Library)

Huldah Neal nominated for induction to Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame

By all accounts, Huldah Neal was no one to fool with.

That’s not to say she wasn’t liked or respected throughout Grand Traverse County, Michigan, which she called home for 70 years. In fact, her 1931 obituary mourned her loss, describing Neal as a “loved pioneer” who was “highly esteemed by a large circle of friends.”

But, Neal was the epitome of what contemporary newspapers referred to as “the new woman” of the 1890s. Civic-minded and socially engaged, Neal had little patience when problems were ignored and allowed to fester. So, while it probably raised eyebrows outside of Grand Traverse County, those who knew her likely weren’t surprised when she grew frustrated by the rampant poaching of fish and game in her area and requested an appointment as a game warden, so she could handle the problem herself.

These sketches of Huldah Neal accompanied a profile of her in the Aug. 15, 1897, edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Neal’s appointment as the country’s first female game warden made news across Michigan and the nation. Many contemporary reports expressed confidence in her abilities to perform the dangerous work of a game warden, due to her tenacity and outdoor skills.

With the stroke of a pen by state game warden and future Michigan governor Chase Osborn in 1897, Neal became a deputy game warden for Grand Traverse County, cementing her little-known legacy as the first female conservation officer in the United States, according to press reports of the day.

To recognize her contributions, and mark the observance of March as Women’s History Month, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division is nominating Neal for induction to the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame. A panel of judges will decide if she merits induction later this year.

“Huldah Neal was a trailblazer, literally and figuratively,” said Gary Hagler, DNR Law Enforcement Division chief. “She was fearless in the way she performed her dangerous duties, and in how she broke free from typical roles that society forced on women at that time. She paved the way for new generations of women who proudly serve as guardians of our natural resources. Huldah Neal left a positive legacy for our state. On behalf of all conservation officers, it’s a privilege to nominate her for induction to the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame.”

Born circa 1855 in Ohio, Huldah Jane Valleau moved with her family to Grand Traverse County in 1861. She married Warren Neal in 1872 and the couple raised two children on their farm near Long Lake. She shared her husband’s love of the outdoors, a passion that didn’t go unrecognized by newspapers reporting on her appointment as deputy game warden.

“Mrs. Neal is a woman of determined character, and has excellent qualifications for such a position,” the Traverse City Record-Eagle wrote on June 6, 1897. “She is an active woods-woman, a good shot, and can give cards and spades to any man in the manipulation of the fishing rod. Besides being an expert in these respects Mrs. Neal is an ardent supporter of the state game and fish laws, and takes much interest in their preservation. The appointment is a good one, and Mrs. Neal will wage an aggressive campaign against violators of the law; and offenders in her locality will find that Mrs. Neal will stand no fooling.”

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Experience free fishing weekend Feb. 17-18 

Show the kids how fun ice fishing can be by heading out during the 2018 Winter Free Fishing Weekend Feb. 17-18.

Grab a fishing rod and enjoy some of the finest fishing Michigan has to offer during the 2018 Winter Free Fishing Weekend Saturday, Feb. 17, and Sunday, Feb. 18. On those two days, everyone—residents and non-residents alike—can fish without a license, though all other fishing regulations still apply.
In addition, during #MiFreeFishingWeekend, the Department of Natural Resources will waive the regular Recreation Passport entry fee that grants vehicle access to Michigan’s 103 state parks and recreation areas. Several locations also may be hosting official 2018 Winter Free Fishing Weekend events that are perfect for the whole family.
Michigan has been celebrating winter’s #MiFreeFishingWeekend every year since 1994 as a way to promote awareness of the state›s vast aquatic resources. With more than 3,000 miles of Great Lakes shoreline, tens of thousands of miles of rivers and streams, and 11,000 inland lakes, Michigan and fishing are a perfect match.
“There’s nothing better than bundling up and heading out on the ice for Michigan’s annual Winter Free Fishing Weekend,” said Jim Dexter, DNR Fisheries Division chief. “For those avid anglers, we encourage you to take someone out who has never experienced winter fishing to show them how simple and fun it can be.”

Official winter #MiFreeFishingWeekend activities are being scheduled in communities across the state to assist with public participation. These activities are coordinated by a variety of organizations, including constituent groups, schools, local and state parks, businesses and others. A full list of these events can be found online at michigan.gov/freefishing

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Hurricanes harm birds, too: What you can do to help your backyard birds


(BPT) – Americans in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico suffered through devastating hurricanes this year, and they weren’t alone in their desolation – Hurricanes Irma, Harvey and Maria also caused unparalleled upheaval for wildlife, including bird populations. Many nature experts are worried about the long-term impact the horrific storms will have on migratory birds, from reducing the amount of food available to them and throwing off their migration schedules, to altering migratory courses and even exposing them to a range of man-made toxins.

Mother Nature Network points out that the storms affected two of the major “flyways” for migratory birds traveling from their breeding areas in North America to their winter homes in the south. The National Wildlife Federation reports that Texas alone is a migratory funnel for about 300 bird species, including hummingbirds, highly endangered whooping cranes and prairie chickens. Further, Audubon reports the Caribbean is home to 172 bird species found nowhere else in the world, and 56 of them are already threatened.

Given the widespread impact of the 2017 hurricane season on bird populations, which stripped foliage and natural food sources, like trees, fruits and insects, chances are good some birds who visited your backyard this year have been adversely affected.

You can do your part to support birds – both those that migrate and ones that stay put during winter – by providing them with food and water throughout the cold-weather months.

The wild bird experts at Cole’s Wild Bird Products Co. provide some suggestions for meeting birds’ dietary needs during difficult winter months:

  • Wild birds must eat about 1/4 to 1/2 their body weight daily to survive. During winter, when many of their natural food sources disappear, birds can find it arduous and challenging to sustain their nutritional needs without some human help. Filling feeders with quality seed blends for seed-eaters, offering options like dried mealworms for insect-eaters, and providing high-fat suet for all types of birds can assist them in finding the essential energy they need to weather winter.
  • Seeds full of cheap fillers like oats and red milo, or ones with synthetic or lab-engineered ingredients, won’t benefit or meet birds’ nutritional needs. What’s more, many birds simply won’t eat low-quality seed, leaving them seeking other food sources. Choose natural feed composed of top-of-the crop seeds, such as Black oil sunflower, Niger seed, white millet, Safflower and raw peanuts that birds love. Cole’s Sunflower Meats, for example, contains nothing but shelled sunflower seeds, and it’s a favorite feed for a wide range of backyard birds.
  • Suet is a must-serve selection for many varieties of backyard birds. Birds need an optimum calorie intake, and suet is a smart way to supplement their needs. Convenient options like no-melt suet cakes and suet kibbles make it easier than ever to supply birds with an energy-packed powerhouse food source.
  • Many birds also enjoy fruits or raw peanuts. Mockingbirds and orioles will appreciate some raisins or currants soaked in water overnight, served in a bowl feeder.
  • Feeder quality, type, maintenance and location are critical considerations during winter. Most seed-eating birds favor tube feeders, and ground feeders or birds that like mealworms or fruit will appreciate an easy-access bowl feeder. Keep feeders clean to minimize mold, mildew and other unhealthy conditions that can make birds sick. Feeders should be placed in sheltered locations out of severe winds, and near protective cover like hedges to offer birds safety from predators. You can place them about five feet away from a wall or window, to avoid possible collisions and still allow for indoor birdwatching.
  • * Birds require water for drinking and bathing, and finding fresh, unfrozen water can be problematic for them when temperatures dip below freezing. Place a fountain or spritzer in your birdbath to keep water moving and unfrozen. You can also find heated birdbaths that gently warm water, ensuring birds can always find drinkable water in winter.

For more information on feeding wild birds, visit coleswildbird.com.

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