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Winter Bird Feeding
December 12, 2016

I enjoyed you many stories you shared on how you too played with boxes.

Memories are fun, as long as you don't live in the past.

It looks like winter is here for the duration in the Great Lakes Region.

It certainly holds true for southwest Michigan.

The blanket of white does brighten up a gloomy day (no sun).

The the quite of a winter's evening makes for a good time to go for walks, at least for me.

I dress in layers to stay warm.

There is something about the quiet and solitude that allows me to relax more, get rid of the stress that days sometimes bring.

Sometimes when I stand quiet, I can hear the snow as it lands on my coat.

Snickers had her one year rabies shot.

Our old veterinarian retired with little notice, we scrambles to find a new animal doctor.

Thankfully we kept records, as nothing was ever transferred.

Snickers and Miss penny still are playmates, as Miss Penny grows taller and longer she has the upper hand in most of the wrestling matches now days.

She also has taken it upon herself to jump on the table, which breaks out the squirt bottle and a sharp NO.

Fur kids, you gotta love them.

Akita is 11 years old now and acts even older most of the time.

She is still my girl, however.

Next week is the week before Christmas already.

Lord willing I will write my 'Annual Christmas Letter' and take the Holidays off as always.

Caring For Birds In The Winter.


Put out fresh water and bird seed.

There, you are good to go.

, it is a bit more involved than that, yet it isn't a scientific formula either.

If you are like me, you may feed birds for the sheer enjoyment of it all.

Knowing I'm helping out our feathered friends is a bonus.

There are many websites and stores that will tell you you need this,and this, and that to feed birds.

How you should provide all sorts of of different feeders and seed to attract them.

In all honesty, if you are just starting out with feeding birds all you really need is a couple of basics.

A fresh water source (and a good heater where temperatures drop below freezing).

Hopper Feeders and Black Oil Sunflower Seeds.

Hopper feeders allow the most variety of birds to feed.

Black Oil Sunflower Seed, attracts the greatest variety of birds and is loaded with protein and oil the birds need.

It is that simple.

Oilers contain up to 24% protein and 50% oil.

Birds need both for energy and muscles, plus a few micro minerals they need.

This product attracts, woodpeckers, jays, cardinals, chickadees, nuthatches, doves, finches (all sorts), sparrows (all sorts), including juncos, and many other birds.

Compared to specialty blends, Nyjer (thistle), peanuts and suet, Black Oil sunflower is a bargain.

If you have the resources, or want to expand your feeding stations.

My Page On Feeding Birds (no selling), may assist you in this.

I do offer other food sources in feeders, but that's me.

Raw Peanuts, hulled or in the shell are another source high in protein and oil.

Peanuts provide 25% protein and 45-50% oil.

Fewer bird species can manage peanuts but it is worth the effort.

Woodpeckers, jays, nuthatches, chickadees, doves, and even cardinals and other birds will pick away at them.

Nyjer (Thistle), is a bit more specialized.

This product is primarily to attract American goldfinches.

Other birds like siskins, chickadees and some sparrows will also glean.

As much as 22% is protein, and 37% is oil content, making this tiny seed desirable for small birds.

Nyjer can be costly, and the soft shell seed can go bad in a hurry.

Suet, is the most concentrated source of energy in a diet, animal fat also provides other nutritional benefits. Fat acts as a carrier for the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.

And you thought you were simply offering the birds fat for quick energy.

Another crucial item birds need is

All birds have gizzards and need something to aid in grinding and digesting their food.

You may see a bird eating sand in your gardens or picking up small pebbles from a road side and swallowing them.

When the ground is snow covered, this is difficult for birds to find.

You can provide crushed eggshells, or purchase ground oyster shells to assist birds.

Eggshells and oyster shells also provide calcium.

Calcium helps with muscle and strong bones (plus egg laying).

As time goes on, you may offer cracked corn and millet for some of the ground feeders.

I will toss some cracked corn in a protected area.

Some last thoughts.

Tossing old bread out is as old as feeding birds.

However, birds get little or no value from this, often filling up o junk food and literally starving to death.

Cheap blends are just that, cheap.

Filled with fillers like wheat and milo (most birds ignore), to push the price down.

Seed ends up on the ground to sprout, rot, and attract rodents.

Place feeders and water in or near a protected area, 3-10 feet from shrubs or trees when possible.

Hawks are prevalent this time of year and I don't like setting the buffet table for them.

Drudging through snow can make filling feeders a major chore, try to place feeders close to your house and where you can enjoy them from a warm window view.

When possible, pack the snow down under your feeders so other birds can feed off the spillage.

One last thing.

Keep feeders and water sources clean.

Sickness can spread rapidly from dirty sources.

Winter can be a difficult time for wildlife, and not just birds.

Research shows most wild birds rely primarily on wild food sources for their survival.

However, many species come to feeders to supplement their wild diet, especially during severe and extreme weather.

If your region gets consistently cold (below freezing) in the winter or has extended periods of snow and ice on the ground, you may be surprised to learn what a huge difference you can make by feeding wild birds right outside your own door or window.

A large-scale winter storm, with deep snow or ice cover, cuts off many birds from their natural food supplies and can actually cause them to starve by the thousands.

Most wild birds live on the edge, often feeding just enough to manage that day and night needs.

One extreme cold night or stress filled day can mean falling to sleep and never waking up.

Backyard bird feeding can make a real contribution to their survival and even thriving during the winter months.

Some of the hardships wildlife faces today come from changes in habitat brought about by human activities.

Cities and towns, sprawling suburbia, have removed trees and shrubs where wildlife used to find food and shelter.

These changes have made survival more difficult for many birds, in some cases threatening their existence.

Although feeders can benefit individuals during weather extremes, they do not usually affect population numbers of birds.

Nor can supplemental feeding compensate for the loss of habitat.

But a feeding program at home, school, work places, hospitals, and or retirement homes can add to personal enjoyment and sense of well-being, and appreciation for nature.

Well, it is time to fly for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

God Bless.

“We watch movies and TV about heroic acts by soldiers or cops, but maybe that sort of heroism isn't very relevant to modern reality. Maybe real courage is being willing to get up and face another day, and do honest work to the best of our ability despite knowing that, in all likelihood, we won't get the recognition or financial reward we deserve.”

John F. Groom

It is human nature to seek attention and to be rewarded.

Here is what Jesus says:

"Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven."

Matthew 6:1

"So that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."

Matthew 6:4

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb.

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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