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High Energy Bird Food
January 19, 2015

It's frustrating when the connection to the dishwasher blows.

A nice little flood, and no water.

This past Friday evening, I'm with yolanda, and babysitting two young grandsons.

Saturday afternoon I managed to get it fixed, thanks to the knowledgeable help and the local 'ACE' hardware store.

I shop there before I do the the Big Box Stores.

I'll gladly pay a bit more (when needed), for helpful service.

It is amazing how much you miss something, until you can't use it, or have it.

Great News on the home front.

Last Monday Yolanda got the green light to go back to Hope Network.

She gets is getting reaquainted with all of her friends.

Next week physical therapy starts.

Again, The Almighty Lord gets all the glory.

And again thank you for all of your prayers.

Somehow it doesn't seem possible.......

The local meteorologists say we are colder this January than January 2014.

The Great Lakes have more ice for same time period as well.

That said, I'm going to chat about feeding birds in the cold of winter and offer some wisdom on "High Energy" bird feed and seed.

Take a look at the webpages for more in depth information and a bit of history.


In much of North America, winter is a difficult time for birds.

Days are often windy and cold; nights are long and even colder.

The fruit and seed laden vegetation of summer and fall has withered or been consumed, and most insects have died or become dormant.

Finding food can be especially challenging for birds during days with extreme cold temperatures and an ever shrinking habitat.

Birds are created to regulate body temperature allowing them to survive in a remarkable range of habitats such as tropical, polar, temperate, and oceans.

Metabolic heat production must be repaid balancing the intake of energy with what has been consumed.

Also unique circulatory system of arteries and veins reduce the heat loss through their feed.

In many birds, arteries and veins in their legs lie in contact with each other in order to exchange heat and maintain temperature.

Arterial blood it is normally at body temperature and it is send to the feed trough a series of conducts that run along with the cold returning venous blood.

Other small birds such as juncos, sparrows, and other ground foraging birds usually drop down covering their legs and feed as a way to transfer body heat.

Birds produce heat during the winter nights and cold storms by puffing up their feathers, and shivering (thermogenesis).

During this process all winter birds will produce heat by consuming their fat perseveres.

Shivering allows birds to maintain their body temperature up 8- 10 hours depending on the species and their intake of energy from food during the day.

That’s why it is necessary for winter songbirds to find food early and often in the morning regardless of weather conditions.

If the bird doesn't not find enough food to produce the necessary energy to make it trough the night or a severe storm, the bird will die.

Other songbirds such as Chickadees will enter a state of unconsciousness or torpor.

During the torpor state body temperature may drop between 10 to 15 degrees during the night or during days of severe cold weather.

Early morning Chickadees will decrease their periods of inactivity and will start shivering again, increasing body heat and becoming active.

There is a high metabolic cost incurred by awakening from torpor that demands immediate payback in energy from food intake.

Chickadees can double their weight during they day and burn it all off keeping warm until morning.

The same species will become hypothermic during a cold front in the springtime, due to the lower feather cover and the low fat preserves.

Feeding the birds is a rewarding and enjoyable hobby.

If you provide food in the winter, keep the feeder full since many birds come to rely on it as a regular place to eat.

Keep the following tips in mind for a successful winter bird feeding season.

Seed Types Should Provide:

The seeds that attract the greatest number of species are.... Black-Oil sunflower. These seeds have a high meat-to-shell ratio.

they are nutritious, high in protein and fat, and their small size and thin shells make them easy for small birds to handle and crack.

Striped sunflower seeds are larger and have a thicker seed coat.

Several studies show that this high-energy food is the bird pleasing favorite of the majority of birds that visit feeders.

Oilers provide up to 24% protein, and up to 50% oil which is converted into energy.

Especially desirable birds (Starlings cannot crack open sunflower seeds).

In fact, it is often wasteful to fill a feeder with a standard mix (a blend of sunflower, milo, millet, oats, wheat, flax, and buckwheat seeds).

Your visitors will more than likely, eat the prized sunflower seeds and leave the rest.

Nyjer, is high in fat, and up to 37% protein.

Provides energy for Goldfinches, Siskins and Redpolls.


Raw Peanuts, in the shell or out, offer high amounts of protein (25%), and oil (50%) for your birds.

Squirrels too if you are into feeding them as well.

High Energy Suet:

Birds that live in cold climates especially appreciate this high-energy foods.

Not only is it high in oil and fat (energy), the fats retain many vitamins needed by birds.

The plain beef suet available at most supermarket meat departments is an excellent high-energy food.

Offer the suet in a plastic mesh bag (the kind onions come in) or, to guard against raccoons, in a wire basket.

Squirrels won't eat fat, the fat brought from a meat department.

Suet can quickly become rancid in warm weather, but some commercial suet cakes and doughs can be used year-round.

Pre-made suet cakes are also available in most stores that sell bird-feeding supplies.

These cakes often contain a mix of bird seeds.

These are great to have on hand in case your local supermarket is out of suet (I often use them myself).

Mix bacon grease and fats with peanut butter and other fun stuff, like fruits and veggies.

Some people worry that birds will choke on sticky peanut butter.

There’s no evidence that they do, but you can completely eliminate any risk by mixing peanut butter with corn meal or oatmeal.

This give you a good idea on what to offer your birds in the short, cold days of winter.

Well, it is time to fly for now.

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

God Bless.

"To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift."

Steve Prefontaine

Mr. Prefontaine is a former track star and Olympian.

He would know the importance of giving your all.

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart,
as working for the Lord, not for human masters,"

Colossians 3:23

"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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