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Creature Chronicles: Winter Feeding

Creature Chronicles: Winter Feeding

Creature Chronicles: Winter Feeding

It’s much easier for birds and squirrels to find food in the summer but it’s challenging in the winter. There are about 300 species of birds that spend their winters in the Houston area because of our mild temperatures. Squirrels are here year-round. You can help our birds and squirrels by supplementing their diet when food is scarce.

SUET – birds burn a lot of calories just to stay warm. Suet is a high-energy, high fat food source and is available at big box stores and Amazon. You can order feeders specifically for suet cakes. If you want a fun family activity, you can make your own. You’ll find many recipes online.

SEEDS – black-oil sunflower seeds, thistle, and safflower seeds are popular high-energy foods.

FRUITS – use a tray feeder to provide fruit like apples, oranges and pears. Cut the fruit into small pieces.

PEANUT BUTTER – make sure you get the salt-free kind. You can purchase feeders specifically for peanut butter and you can also use a pine cone. Just put the peanut butter in the crevices and hang it from a tree. If you want to, after putting the peanut butter on the cone, roll it in bird seed.

MEALWORMS – I purchased a big bag of mealworms at Walmart. It’s pretty gross to look at but the birds love them.

CRACKED CORN – you can purchase bags of cracked corn or you can buy a bag of mixed bird seed with cracked corn as one of the ingredients. Make sure to buy premium feed. The cheaper feed has fillers and is just wasted because the birds won’t eat it.

NIGER SEED – loved by goldfinches. There are specific feeders for this.

WHITE PROSO MILLET – use a tubular feeder for millet.

PEANUTS – squirrels love peanuts. You can buy shelled or unshelled but make sure they are unsalted. Put the peanuts on a tray feeder away from your bird feeders. Some birds like peanuts as well.

EGG SHELLS – don’t throw your egg shells away. Rinse them and bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes. Once cooled, crush them up and add to your bird food. You can also scatter some on the ground for the ground feeders.

CHEESE – this one surprised me. Buy grated mild cheddar and use a tray feeder.

WATER – very important! You can purchase birdbath heaters so the water won’t freeze.

No matter the season, always keep your feeders and bird baths clean. Rotten food can actually kill the very birds you’re trying to help.

I haven’t said much about squirrels. In addition to peanuts which I mentioned above, they will raid your feeders and pick out what they like leaving the rest to fall to the ground. You can try baffles, spikes and squirrel-proof feeders. Don’t place your feeders near trees because they will jump from a branch onto your feeder. I know from experience.

Thank goodness the weather in our area isn’t too bad. We have cold snaps that don’t usually last too long but if you think about how small birds and squirrels are, you realize how hard it is for them to stay warm and to find food in the winter. Let’s help them.

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