Wild birds need fuel for fall



A variety of birds feast on a seed-caked “rascal” cylinder.

Our travel plans may have changed, but some birds are moving out and some are staying. Many birds change their summer diet of insects and vegetation to a greater amount of high-fat, high-energy foods to fuel them through the long winter months or their migration. Prime fall foods include suet, peanuts, and sunflower.

Some seed blends appear to be a good deal price-wise, but some are made inexpensively by adding seeds like milo and wheat. In most regions, these seeds are not eaten by bird feeder birds. So, cheap bird seed is the most expensive way to feed the birds, since there is so much uneaten waste tossed to the ground, and you lose out with poor quality birdwatching.

Suet is a great winter food. A pure fat substance, suet provides high energy when insects are more difficult to find. Look for high-fat content with additives such as nuts and fruits to make them even tastier to birds.

Another great option is to offer seed cylinders or seed blocks. Seed cylinders are long-lasting and easy to use. These combinations of pressed seeds, nuts, and fruits require birds to use natural feeding techniques to chip away each little morsel. This makes the food last much longer and is quite economical to use.

Plus changing your offerings now will capture migrants feeding activity in your yard. Some migrating birds wait until the week before they depart to put on all the extra fat they need for their trip south. Other migrants will stop along their southerly route to refuel. Active feeding stations will catch their attention and attractive foods will give them the needed fuel.

Lastly, our resident birds are choosing their winter territories now and access to feeders with quality foods, not only provide a great meal today, but can influence their decision to choose your yard later. Happy Bird Feeding!

Kathy and her husband, John, own and operate the Wild Birds Unlimited, located in Billings and at www.wbu.com/billings. She is a Certified Bird Feeding Specialist.