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Tag Archive | "Farmer’s Almanac"

Top 10 winter bird foods



And the birds that love them

by Melissa Mayntz, Farmer’s Almanac

Reprinted by permission 

Male woodpecker at bird feeder.

Birds need extra fat and calories in winter to keep their body temperatures up and survive the bitter cold, yet the coldest winter days are exactly when it can be hardest for them to find food. Backyard birders can be a great help to birds when these rich foods are available at feeders. The foods that will be most appreciated in your yard will depend on which birds are common winter guests, but these 10 options are popular with many species that stay in our yards year-round.

Top 10 Winter Bird Foods

Suet. Whether you offer this rich, fat-filled option in cakes, balls, shreds, nuggets, or chunks, suet will always be popular. It can be offered plain or mixed with other foods such as seed, insects, nuts, or fruit, and every variety will be enjoyed by winter birds, especially woodpeckers, nuthatches, wrens, chickadees, jays, cardinals, and nutcrackers.

Bark Butter. A softer, spreadable form of suet, bark butter can be smeared directly on a tree for an instant feeding station. This is a great option to offer birds that hitch along tree trunks, such as woodpeckers, nuthatches, and creepers, and other clinging birds like chickadees will also visit for a quick bite.

Hulled Sunflower Seed. Shelled sunflower hearts and chips are ideal for all winter birds. Not only is sunflower seed high in fat and calories, but without shells, it is easier for birds to eat, and there won’t be messy hulls underneath feeders. Wrens, finches, siskins, cardinals, nuthatches, jays, and plenty of other winter visitors will enjoy this seed.

Black Oil Sunflower Seed. The go-to staple of bird feeding, there’s never a bad time to offer black oil sunflower seed. While birds will have to work to open each seed and those hulls can build up under feeders, the hulls will also protect seeds from snow and ice so they don’t clump together or spoil as quickly. All sorts of birds will gorge on this seed, including cardinals, chickadees, titmice, finches, wrens, jays, and more.

Peanuts. Larger birds or those with more industrious attitudes will appreciate high-calorie, fat-rich peanuts at winter feeders. Whole, in-shell nuts are a great option for jays, nutcrackers, and woodpeckers, while smaller birds such as titmice, chickadees, and wrens are more likely to feast on shelled nuts and nut hearts.

Nyjer. Also called “thistle” seed, Nyjer is a tiny, oil-rich seed. Because of its small size, it’s best to offer Nyjer in mesh or sock feeders so it doesn’t blow away on a windy day. Pine siskins, goldfinches, redpolls, purple finches, and other small, clinging seed-eaters all prefer Nyjer.

Fruit. While many fruit-loving birds migrate south for the winter, some birds still appreciate the sweet treat of apple chunks, orange wedges, raisins, or fresh cranberries. Offer these foods in platforms or on festive strings and thrushes, jays, finches, and waxwings will all stop by for a visit.

Millet. High in carbs and calories, millet offers fast energy for hungry birds. Millet can be offered hulled or whole and may be used in feeders or sprinkled directly on the ground for juncos, sparrows, finches, wrens, doves, and quail to enjoy.

Cracked Corn. Though not the most nutritious food, cracked corn is a rich source of carbohydrates that can give birds good energy. It is also more affordable and is ideal to offer on the ground or in low feeders for birds with big appetites, such as quail, grouse, wild turkeys, doves, and ducks.

Mealworms. There aren’t many insects around in winter, and insect-eating birds will flock to your feeder when you offer either dried or live mealworms. Only offer mealworms as a small treat, but you’ll still see bluebirds, thrushes, wrens, chickadees, nuthatches, and titmice lining up for their share.

For the most feathered fun when snow flies, offer as many of these top winter foods as possible and you’ll have a diverse, active flock feasting at your feeders all winter long.

See this article online at https://www.farmersalmanac.com/winter-bird-33711.

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The Year without a Summer


by Jaime McLeod

Editor’s note: With the cool weather we’ve had recently, it seems more like Spring or Fall. Mornings have been in the 40s and daytime highs in the 60s. Some people are wondering where summer is. We know the warm temperatures will be back soon, but what if they didn’t come back? What if we had snow in July? That’s what happened in 1816. Read the article below from the Farmer’s Almanac to see what happened.

The infamous “Year Without a Summer” was a weather event so devastating that people are still talking about it some 200 years later.

Referred to by many names, including “the poverty year” and “eighteen hundred and froze-to-death,” the year 1816 was literally a year without a summer across much of the Northern Hemisphere. Throughout not only North America, but also Northern Europe and parts of Asia, an exceptionally cold summer, featuring killing frosts in July and August, crippled food production. Crop failures and food shortages were so widespread that rioting and looting became common in the United Kingdom and France.

On this side of the Atlantic, many residents of New England and the Canadian Maritimes froze to death, starved, or suffered from severe malnutrition as storms–bringing a foot or more of snow– hit hard during May and June. Many others from the region pulled up their stakes and moved to Western New York and the Midwest, where the cold was less severe. In fact, the year without a summer is now believed to have been one major catalyst in the westward expansion of the United States.

Though the northeastern section of the continent was hardest hit, southern states still experienced their share of the cold. On July 4th of that year, for instance, the high temperature in Savannah, Georgia, was a chilly 46° F. As far south as Pennsylvania, lakes and rivers were frozen over during July and August.

So, what caused this tragically cold summer? The likely suspect was a series of volcanic eruptions that occurred during the winter of 1815, in particular, the eruption of Mt. Tambora in Indonesia, believed to be the largest eruption of the last 1,800 years. The volcano ejected a tremendous cloud of fine ash and dust was ejected into the stratosphere, where it remained for a very long time. This ash insulated the earth from the heat and light of the sun, resulting in a cooling effect throughout the Northern Hemisphere.

This ash also gave the sky a yellowish tinge in some areas, which can be seen in many landscape paintings from the era. Fortunately a summer like this has yet to repeat itself and the Almanac’s outlook for this summer is much more enjoyable.

Reprinted with permission by the Farmers’ Almanac, Lewiston, Maine.

To get your own copy of The Farmer’s Almanac with forecasts, stories, helpful hints and more, you can visit them online at https://store.farmersalmanac.com/FARM/product-categories/farmers-almanacs/single-issues.

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