Feeding Winter Birds

Have you been stuck indoors on recent winter days?

A group of hungry pine siskins gather food from a feeder designed especially for dispensing thistle seed. The feeder is also deer-proof. Siskins are especially common this winter.

A group of hungry pine siskins gather food from a feeder designed especially for dispensing thistle seed. The feeder is also deer-proof. Siskins are especially common this winter.

Suet will attract a variety of birds, like this male pileated woodpecker. A wire basket prevents mammals from stealing the suet.

Suet will attract a variety of birds, like this male pileated woodpecker. A wire basket prevents mammals from stealing the suet.

A northern cardinal female is feeding on sunflower seeds from an open plaform feeder. Sunflower seeds attract a considerable number of songbirds.

A northern cardinal female is feeding on sunflower seeds from an open plaform feeder. Sunflower seeds attract a considerable number of songbirds.

A blue jay drinks from a heated bird bath. Bird enthusiasts can attract more birds to their property by employing a heated water source.

A blue jay drinks from a heated bird bath. Bird enthusiasts can attract more birds to their property by employing a heated water source.

After all, an outdoor thermometer that read minus 30 or even lower, is best viewed from the warm side of the window. You likely cranked up the thermostat, or maybe threw an extra log on the fire.

The critters that live outdoors, especially birds, don't have that luxury. They fluff their feathers for added insulation, and do their best to gather food to fuel their furnaces.

The weather forecast for the next week or so isn't very promising. So, do we kick back and complain, or fill bird feeders to attract colorful creatures during these gray days of winter.

Feeding birds is no longer a hobby just for the enthusiastic birder watcher. Roughly 60 million people in the United States feed birds and we spend over $2 billion per year doing it. Besides, it's cold outside and our feathered friends need food to stay warm.

In reality, most birds do just fine without assistance from humans. But we feed then regardless. When we peer out a window to watch a colorful cardinal dexterously use its heavy beak to remove the heart from a sunflower seed, we know we are feeding the birds more for our benefit than theirs. Watching birds like a cheery little chickadee with feathers fluffed against the cold on a subzero morning makes the long winter a little bit more bearable.

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Source, image(s), credits & more information: Brainerd Dispatch | Bill Marchel