For the Birds: Feed them in Fall to Bring them Back in Winter
by Press Release
November 2, 2008

Humans aren’t the only ones who look forward to the autumn harvest. Fall brings a bounty of natural foods for our feathered friends, too. But while they’re feasting on fall’s cornucopia of delicacies, birds are also planning ahead, taking note of yards with feeders that can help them weather winter’s cold.

Many of birds’ favorite foods are actually more abundant in the fall. Summer weeds ripen with seeds by October. Many berries only begin to emerge in late summer or early winter, and insects are abundant. You may think there’s no need to feed your outdoor pets during the fall, but if you want feathered visitors to find your home in the winter, start feeding them in autumn.

The birds who visit feeders in the fall are scouting, becoming familiar with feed stations and making decisions about which back yards they’ll visit this winter. The feed you put out in the fall will let birds know they’ll be welcome and fed in your back yard when serious cold weather arrives – and they no longer have the luxury of exploring for food.

Winter weather is hard on birds. Their calorie requirements increase, food becomes hard to find, snow covers up seeds and ice storms seal away the tree buds and wild fruits. Tiny birds must eat a third to three quarters of their weight each day. When the temperature dips below zero, easy meals at a feeder can mean the difference between life and death.

To survive the cold, birds remain very still, perched quietly with their feathers fluffed for insulation. Stillness helps them conserve energy, which can only happen if they have enough body fat to fuel them. Birds with access to feeding stations have an easier time putting on and retaining fat. In winter, bird populations will actually increase in areas where there are feeders.

It’s important to stock your feeder with high-quality foods that will provide birds with the most oil, nutrients and energy – and little chafe. Look for a feed, like Coles’ that packs nutrition, preserves freshness and gives you the most feed for your dollar. Coles’ Oil Sunflower is more than 99 percent pure and cleaned four times to ensure there are more seeds and fewer sticks in each bag. The feed is also nitrogen purge packaged, just like human food, to ensure seed freshness and that every unopened bag is insect free.

In addition to seed, serve up some suet. Two attractive forms are Nutberry Suet blend, which appeals to fruit- and insect-loving songbirds, and Suet Pearls Sunflower Meats, which features sunflower seeds buried inside energy-rich suet. Or, try Suet Nuts Treats, a nourishing blend of peanuts and berry suet that birds find delectable.

Just as birds need food year-round, they also look for water. This can be tricky in regions where water spends the winter as ice, but bird lovers can help in a number of ways. Experts suggest leaving icicles on the eaves to provide a regular source of water for birds who will drink the drops as the icicles melt. A shallow basin of warm water set out daily is sure to make any yard a magnet for birds during cold winter months. Birds are drawn to running water sounds so spritzers or small fountains are also good. In the winter there are many quality bird bath heaters available to keep the water from freezing and they are more convenient than setting out water every day.

For more ideas on how to help birds eat well through winter, visit www.

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