Did you know that not all birds migrate south for the winter? Some birds stay here in Delaware, and you can see them right outside your window! Now’s the time to feed the birds! There are different kinds of bird feeders—natural bird feeders like sunflowers and winterberries, as well as artificial bird feeders that you can hang up in your own backyard!
Delaware Nature Society has both of these feeders at their sites! At Coverdale Farm Preserve, a field of sunflowers is planted each spring. Through the spring and summer you can see their vibrant yellow petals and big, brown heads. These big, brown heads are full of sunflower seeds and birds love to eat these seeds in the fall! Although the sunflowers don’t look as pretty anymore, they make excellent bird feeders!
The birds land on their tipped heads and reach underneath to pluck a sunflower seed from the head. The birds crack the seed open and eat the inside, and then leave the shell on the top of the head. They are very messy eaters!
Other natural bird feeders are winterberries and holly berries. Winterberries do not ripen until November (did you know that freezing weather actually triggers ripeness?) and the berries make an excellent winter snack for our birds.
American holly berries ripen even later in the wintertime during December. These berries are bright red which tells the birds that they are ripe and ready to eat. These provide nutrients for the birds and give the birds energy and warmth through the winter.
At Ashland Nature Center, we place sunflower seeds and thistle in artificial bird feeders made of plastic and/or wood that hang along our trails and outside of the auditorium windows. It’s not only a treat for the birds, but it is also enjoyable for the staff members and visitors to see these beautiful birds in the wintertime! Check out these pictures that DNS staff member and bird lover Derek Stoner has taken!
Aren’t those birds pretty? Those species of birds (and more!) may come hang out in your backyard if you put up a bird feeder! Here are some ideas of different foods to put in your artificial bird feeders. If you like Goldfinches, put thistle in your feeder. Suet, a fat that gives birds lots of energy, attracts chickadees (that’s what the chickadee was eating in Derek’s picture!), tufted titmice, nuthatches, and woodpeckers. Sunflower seeds and mixed seeds attract seed-eating birds like bright, red cardinals. These are just some examples, you may find a lot more species come visit your bird feeders! It’s also important to keep refilling your bird feeders to make sure your backyard birds stay fed, especially during a snow storm!
So grab some birdseed, a field guide, and your binoculars and find out what kinds of birds hang out in your backyard all winter long! It will certainly be quite a treat!