Spring Birdfeeding

Emily White

Spring Bird Feeding

Spring is here and Canadian wild
birds are arriving home to their own northern backyards from the south. Here are a few
tips on spring bird feeding to help welcome them home.
Many birds, in their instinctual eagerness to return, will arrive home before enough food is available for them in nature.
The early days of spring, while rejuvenating us, can
be hungry ones for backyard birds . It is therefore important to feed the birds throughout the spring season. Remember that seed eating birds will have very few natural sources of
food until the plants in their natural environment come to seed. Any wild bird seed that
you provide in your feeders will certainly be beneficial.
Spring brings not only the return of our migrating birds, but also a new generation of these birds will hatch.
In these months of renewal the bird population will nest and rear their young, so food and water become more essential than
ever. Parenting birds will dispense enormous amounts of energy nest building and feeding
their babies. They will therefore require extra energy to sustain them. Any bird
seed you provide at this time will have far reaching effects. Be sure to make water available
as well, for water is not only essential but also used for nest construction.
Birds also require calcium for egg production. A good manufacturer of wild bird seed will
offer a seasonally adjusted mix that includes calcium in the spring. Try our Seasons Woodland blend which is changed 4 times a year to suit the birds’ needs. Or, you
may simply wish to add calcium in the form of crushed egg shells. Rinse and microwave your empty shells, then crush them and mix in your birdseed or offer in a tray feeder in your yard. Many species will gobble these up. The warmer weather will also mark the return of our migratory fruit eating birds such as robins, cedar waxwings and orioles. To attract
these varieties, you may wish to put out slices of fruit (oranges, apples, grapes...) to help tempt them back to your backyard
after their long winter absence. Don’t forget to provide nectar for the hummingbirds and
orioles. Featherfields sells dozens of styles of feeders for offering sugar water, jelly or fruit.
To prepare properly for the return of our wild birds, a little “spring cleaning” is always in
order. Remember to wash out the hummingbird and oriole feeders, making certain that all
feeding ports are clear of residue. A crystal clear feeder will help to attract these dainty birds
and will keep them healthy. Make sure your birdhouses are clean as well. A good cleaning helps to prevent an accumulation of parasites.
Spring bird feeding would not be complete without mention of our wild finches. While many
finches are with us throughout the winter, they do become more apparent in the warmer
weather, particularly the male American Goldfinch, who celebrates the first days of spring
with a change in colour, transforming from dull olive green to brilliant yellow! Spring then,
is a good time to stock up on nyjer seed to help draw these delightful birds
to your yard. Of course, during dandelion season, nature will lend a hand in attracting goldfinches since they love dandelion seeds.
Spring bird feeding can be so rewarding, for at this time of year, we have the pleasure
of attracting a greater variety of birds at the peak of their plumage. They transform
our backyards with colour and song, awakening within us a spirit that soars only with the spring.

Emily White, B.Sc.

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