The web browser you are using is out of date and no longer supported by this site. For the best TractorSupply.com experience, please consider updating your browser to the latest version.
Buy Online Pick Up in Store Now available - Tractor Supply Co.
Navigate to Shopping Cart
Cart Item Count
 
  • Left Arrow
    My Account
  • Left Arrow
    My Account
  • Make My Store

    Your nearest store doesn't match your preferred store. Do you want to change the nearest store as your preferred store?

    CONFIRM CLEAR INFO?

    Click "YES" to clear all the customer data, cart contents and start new shopping session.

    Your current shopping session will get automatically reset in seconds.
    If you are still active user then please click "NO"

    Changing your store affects your localized pricing. This includes the price of items you already have in your shopping cart. Are you sure you want to change your store?

    Your nearest store doesn't match your preferred store. Do you want to change the nearest store as your preferred store?


    • To Shop Online
    • To Check In-Store Availability

    click here
    We do not share this information with anyone. For details,please view our Privacy Policy

    Foul-Weather Feeding | Winter 2011 Out Here Magazine

    Lend a helping hand to birds during cold winter days

    bird eating from a feeding tube
    Feeding black-oil sunflower seeds, with a shell thin enough for even small species to crack easily, will attract a variety of birds.
    Out Here

    By Tammy Binford

    Photography by iStock

    Loading up on high-calorie food doesnÕt sound like the best strategy for staying fit and healthy. And while that approach would be too good to be true for people, it's how birds survive winter.

    The bad news for birds is that the cold season makes finding all those calories tricky. The good news, though, is that birds have millions of non-feathered friends eager to help.

    "Folks are surprised when I mention that 55 million people over age 16 feed wild birds," says Dr. David J. Horn, director of the National Bird Feeding Society. "It's considered the second most popular hobby in the U.S. behind gardening."

    Horn suggests starting with black-oil sunflower seed, which has a thin shell easy for even small species to crack, in a tube feeder. "You have a good probability of attracting a good diversity of birds to your yard," he says.

    Because birds are warm-blooded, they need to maintain their body temperature in an even range, says Pam Collins, sales manager with CHS Sunflower, the manufacturer of the Royal Wing birdseed line. To keep warm, birds need a balanced diet that includes a calorie-rich mix of fruit, nuts, and seed.

    "In most of North America, winter days are short, cold, and long," Collins says, so much of the natural food supply is out of season or snow-covered. In addition to seed, suet is a good winter supplement because it's a high-fat replacement for the insects that are dead or dormant. It's easy to provide because it comes in cakes made to fit suet feeders.

    Keep the birds around your yard fed, watered, and sheltered this winter and they'll return the favor by providing you with plenty of enjoyment.

    With winter being such a challenge, can well-meaning people spoil birds, making them unable to fend for themselves? No, say Horn and Collins. Even birds living near bird feeders get only 20 to 30 percent of their daily intake from feeders, Collins says.

    "The limited studies that have been done suggest that birds are not dependent on bird feeders and won't become dependent by feeding in the back yard," Horn says.

    Bird enthusiasts can choose a single-seed feed or a seed mix. Good choices include black-oil sunflower, white proso millet, gray-striped sunflower, sunflower kernels, Nyjer, and safflower seed. (Safflower is known to discourage squirrels.)

    Bird lovers need to choose their feeder locations carefully. Put some distance between feeders because — especially in winter — crowding causes stress, Collins says.

    Safety from predators is another consideration. Feeders placed too close to low shrubs put birds at risk from cats and other animals lurking out of sight. Putting feeders too far out in the open, though, means birds can't quickly escape to trees if a hawk swoops in, Horn says. Place a feeder about 6 feet from trees or shrubs, then watch to see if it needs to be moved, he suggests.

    It's also important to keep feeders free of moldy seed to prevent disease, Collins says. And choose an easy-to-clean feeder sturdy enough to survive winter.

    Water is another winter dilemma for birds because free-flowing water sources can ice over. Backyard bird baths help, and some come with built-in heaters. Water isn't just for drinking. It also lets birds keep their feathers clean and healthy. "Birds love running or dripping water," Collins says. "It's like a magnet for them."

    Those interested in helping birds through the harsh season also can provide shelter, Horn says. Roost boxes, which look like birdhouses but typically have a hole at the base instead of at the top, provide protection from rain, snow, and wind.

    Keep the birds around your yard fed, watered, and sheltered this winter and they'll return the favor by providing you with plenty of enjoyment.

    Tammy Binford is a writer in Nolensville, Tenn.

     

    Popular Pages on TractorSupply.com