Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Richard Drake reports that February is national bird-feeding month

In January 1994, Illinois' 10th District Congressman John Porter read a resolution in the Congressional Record making February "National Bird-Feeding Month". This observance was established because wintertime is one of the most difficult periods in much of North America for birds to survive in the wild.

Consider that:
- A typical backyard bird doesn't weigh as much as two nickels.
- Birds spend most of their waking hours searching for food -- without the help of "hands" and "fingers".
- They may consume 15% of their body weight overnight just keeping warm enough to survive.
- Like mail carriers, they're outside in sleet, snow, wind and cold.
The resolution noted that one-third of the adult population feeds wild birds in their backyards. Providing food, water and shelter helps birds survive, benefits the environment and supplements wild birds' natural diet of weed seeds and harmful insects.

The Birding Hobby
Backyard bird feeding is an entertaining, educational and inexpensive pastime that can be enjoyed by children and adults. It provides a needed break from today's frantic lifestyles that helps keep families together. Young children are drawn naturally to the activities involved in feeding wild birds. Chickadees, for example, fly back and forth between a feeder and a nearby tree. On each trip, they take a single seed and fly to a perch. While holding the seed with their feet, they peck it open and eat the kernel. This can capture a youngster's imagination.

Adults enjoy the relaxation and peacefulness afforded by watching birds. Nature serves to relieve the stress and can get one's day going on a tranquil note. For example, the Northern cardinal is a common visitor to many feeding stations. A beautiful bird, the bright red male and his more camouflaged mate often will be the first at the feeder in the morning and last to leave at night. Mated for life, they can be observed sharing morsels of sunflower and safflower seeds during the nesting season.

Feeding wild birds in the backyard is an easy hobby to start, and it need not overtax the family budget. It can be as simple as mounting a single feeder outside a window and filling it with good-quality birdseed or oil sunflower seeds. This feeder can be a hopper, platform or tubular variety or one that sticks to the window.


Anonymous said...

It seems that black oil sunflower seeds are the most popular across species, far as I can tell. Farmers Coop on 6th has the best price for large bags. Suet cakes are also much appreciated as substitute for the fat that insects normally provide. I sometimes buy those small boxes of lard at the grocery and set slabs out to try and economize. My backyard is a real circus as crows, woodpeckers, squirrels and all sorts of other birds gather. Plus the occasional visit from a red shouldered hawk.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tips!