Spring and Summer Are Great Times to Feed the Birds
Over 100 North American bird species supplement their natural diets with bird seed, suet, fruit and nectar obtained from feeders.
Access to abundant and healthy food supplies is important to birds…regardless of the season. Bird feeders provide a portion of these important nutritional needs for your backyard birds throughout the year.
Birds with access to backyard feeders benefit greatly from their ability to spend less time foraging for food and more time engaging in activities that enhance their health and safety. These activities can include:
- Feeders allow breeding birds to spend less time searching for food and more time selecting better nesting sites and constructing higher quality nests. Adults will also have more time available for protecting their nest, eggs and young from predators.
- Research studies have shown that birds with access to bird feeders will often lay their eggs earlier than those without feeders. This is significant because earlier broods typically have better rates of survival and fledging success than later broods.
- When abundant food is accessible to parent birds, it means that more food is provided to their chicks. This extra nutrition can increase the nestling’s rate of growth and reduce aggression among nest siblings.
- Access to bird feeders allow breeding females to spend less time foraging which leads to better protection of eggs from predators, earlier fledging of the nestlings and higher survival rates of the brood.
- Birds are very vulnerable to predators while searching for food, the distraction of foraging results in a reduced ability to focus on dangers and threats from predators. Less time spent foraging means more time spent being vigilant in spotting a predator in time to successfully evade it.
- Feeding your birds in the summer will not make them too lazy, too dependent or keep them from migrating at the appropriate time. These misconceptions have been dispelled by modern research and observation.
- Contrary to popular belief, recent research shows summer to be the most abundant season for birds to visit feeders.
The food and housing we provide can make a significant difference on how well birds will thrive and survive in our own backyards.
Offer High-Quality Suet to Give Birds a Strong Start
Summer is an amazing time to feed and watch birds in your yard. It can provide unique entertainment that you can’t experience any other time of year. Plus, you will be helping this year’s broods of babies grow big and strong for all the natural challenges they will face.
Help young birds find the right building blocks for growing strong feathers by offering quality suet packed with high-protein options. Feathers are over 90% protein and it takes lots of energy from foods to grow them well.
Young ones that have recently hatched are hungry and are learning how to find food. Watch as bird parents, and in some cases older siblings, show them where and how to find food. Your suet feeders are a prime location for these hungry and awkward youngsters.
Keep an eye out for ragged-looking fledglings chasing their parents while begging for food. Their feathers grow in tracts or patches at various rates. Their head may look a different color pattern or their body feathers may be mottled. The tail feathers are usually the last of the feathers to grow. So, sometimes these young are bouncing around trying to navigate flying and perching without the help of full-grown feathers.
Downy Woodpecker dads like to take the family out to eat. When the young brood fledges from the nest, dad leads them to great food sources as well as teaches them how to use his favorite backyard bird feeders.
Chickadee and nuthatch dads feed mom while she incubates and broods the eggs. Dad also helps feed the young once they have hatched.
Pygmy and Brown-headed Nuthatches provide future dads with on-the-job training. A third of all breeding pairs of Pygmy Nuthatches have one to three male helpers, usually their own offspring or other relatives. Between 20-60% of breeding Brown-headed Nuthatch pairs have at least one helper. These helpers, which could be future moms too, assist in feeding the incubating female, the nestlings and the young fledglings.
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