One question we receive from birders a lot this time of year is whether they should still be putting out food for birds now that winter is almost over. This article will set out why our backyard birds need us more than ever as we say farewell to winter.
Spring is a Busy Time for Birds
For birds that have already come a long way from their wintering grounds, spring is a busy season as they claim territory, seek out mates, build nests and begin to raise their young. It may be many weeks before flowers bloom and insects emerge and diminishing wild bird habitats have depleted many natural sources of food for wild birds - all challenges for our feathered friends. Offering foods for spring birds can not only invite them to your backyard, but can also help them survive late season storms and other hazards.
Summer - Time for Raising Young
In the summer, even though there is a lot of food available for birds, their energy requirements are high because they must feed their young. Summer feeding is critical for a mother bird and her hatchlings and fledglings who are entirely dependent on her for food. The additional nutrients provided through backyard feeding will sustain baby birds during this period of rapid growth and development, increasing the likelihood of survival.
Spring is a great time to make sure your feeders are clean and in good repair.
Browse our selection of bird feeder cleaning accessories »
Most Popular Food for Spring/Summer:
1. Birdseed: Black-oil sunflower seeds (or sunflower hearts for a no-mess, no waste alternative) are ideal as a nutrition rich seed. Avoid cheap bird seed mixes which contain a lot of "filler" such as red millet and milo.
2. Mealworms: Full of energy, essential nutrients, fats and proteins, mealworms are a preferred food for adult songbirds trying to feed their youngsters.
3. Fruit and Nectar: Apple and orange halves and chunks of banana are a favourite of the brightly coloured orioles and tanagers. Hummingbirds will appreciate your nectar offerings especially early in the season when there are no spring-blooming flowers that provide a natural nectar source.
4. Suet: Perfect for insect-eating birds, this high-fat food provides abundant calories and rich nutrition for many birds. Many people believe suet should only be offered in the winter months, but most suets are now made to withstand melting in the summer heat and can be used year-round.
5. Calcium Carbonate - Egg Shells: Calcium carbonate is an important nutrient for birds. When birds don’t get enough calcium in their diet their egg shell quality can be negatively impacted, which reduces the survival rate of chicks. This is why it is a good idea to supplement your bird feed with egg shells in the early spring when most bird species are nesting and laying eggs. Thoroughly wash and sterilize empty egg shells in a low-heat oven before crushing them and adding them to your feeders.
Goodbye Winter and Hello Spring!
With the coming warmer weather your yards, feeding stations and gardens will be bustling with new life. As always, we’re here to be your one-stop resource for information, advice and anything else you might need to create a feathery oasis in your yard. Happy Spring from all of us at Urban Nature Store!