Lisenbee: Now is a good time to feed birds, but here are some things to keep in mind –

Len Lisenbee
 |  MPNnow

Do you know that the month of February has been designated as “Hen Feeding Month”? Since 1989? Properly, neither did I. And I additionally don’t know who precisely designated it as such.

Some group that calls itself the “Nationwide Hen Feeding Society” apparently got here up with the thought. A congressman, John Porter, introduced it in Congress. So now we’ve got it, I assume.

Not that it’s not an amazing concept. Personally, I’m all for it. The one change I’d make is to rename it and name it the ‘Hen Feeding 4 Months’ to incorporate December, January and March.

Nevertheless, February is an effective alternative as effectively as a result of it’s usually the harshest of our winter months, weather-wise. And, when you think about that pure meals for birds is usually scarcest at the moment, it’s a excellent alternative.

Between now and the clear arrival of spring, the climate is usually actually unhealthy. Brutal chilly mixed with intervals of snow and ice make life for songbirds rather more troublesome. And it’s a incontrovertible fact that feeding birds with top quality meals in winter ends in significantly better nesting success when spring lastly does arrive, and particularly the place year-round feeders can be found.

It’s essential to maintain feeders crammed throughout winter months. Whether it is potential, embrace suet blocks and shelled peanuts at hen feeding stations along with black oil sunflower seeds, milo, millet, and thistle seeds to offer the additional energy that birds want. And if you happen to watch intently, you possibly can see chickadees hiding sunflower seeds underneath the bark of close by bushes after they’ve eaten their fill.

Feeding birds is comparatively easy, enjoyable, and enjoyable for anybody to participate in, at any age. With extra individuals working from house and extra kids studying from house, hen feeding is an ideal exercise (particularly if the feeders are seen from close by home windows. In spite of everything, what is healthier? Pc screens and televisions or watching birds feeding at a close-by feeder?

However there are some risks concerned with feeding birds, too. Unrestrained cats are, for my part, the most important hazard. It’s estimated that cats kill billions of small birds and different small critters yearly. They’re completely deadly of their makes an attempt to catch and kill birds, very often only for the problem since many are well-fed earlier than going exterior to do their enterprise.

If you’re unsure in case you have a cat drawback, and if there may be delicate snow on the bottom underneath and across the feeder, simply look down. Not seeing cat tracks is an effective signal. However be vigilant and verify that space regularly.

What do you do if there are indicators of cats looking birds? Properly, a few years in the past I prompt getting a BB gun to resolve the issue, and readers from far and vast wrote me numerous notes suggesting numerous violence they wished to carry out on my drained previous physique. So now I merely counsel that feeders be emptied  for some time till the hazard to the birds has gone someplace else. (However BB weapons nonetheless work fairly effectively.)

There are different risks to feeding songbirds which might be tougher to keep away from and pop up very often. They’re discovered primarily within the totally protected Accipiter household of hawks. There are three members on this household: the sharp-shinned hawk is the smallest; the Cooper’s hawk and the goshawk (the biggest). All three species hunt songbird-sized birds. The goshawk can even take bigger birds and mammals similar to grey squirrels.

If considered one of these birds units up store close to a hen feeder, don’t panic. As a rule they’ll transfer on to a different feeder briefly order, hardly ever spending plenty of time at anybody feeder until it’s usually loaded with plenty of songbirds a lot of the time. Nevertheless, if one does patronize a feeder, about the one factor you are able to do is cease feeding till the hen leaves. That needs to be one to 2 days at most.

And there may be one different tidbit of data value mentioning. You probably have oak or hickory bushes comparatively near your hen feeder, then take a while after darkish to activate a lightweight so you possibly can see if there may be any exercise on the feeder. It’s something however unusual for flying squirrels to search out and patronize a hen feeder between full darkness and midnight. They may make the most of nearly any seed, however they’ll select black oil or striped sunflower seeds initially.

And sure, you possibly can entice these pleasant little critters by merely placing up some flying squirrel containers on the oak bushes. Simply construct a bluebird nest field (or one that may be a little bigger) and drill a gap in regards to the diameter of a golf ball on one aspect of the field or the opposite.

For those who put up a number of containers you possibly can anticipate plenty of these cute little critters to verify in. In spite of everything, their favourite meals are acorns and hen seed.

* * *

All this speak of winter birds brings to thoughts my run-in with a winter hen that hung round for his spring frolic and his summer time enjoyable. And I totally notice that some species of birds and wildlife do unusual and, not less than for a few of us, loopy issues.

Now I’m not speaking in regards to the hen grouse that dragged its wing alongside as if it was damaged to steer me away from her nest final summer time (she hatched out 12 eggs). And I’m not too involved in regards to the redtail hawk that attempted to take my head off after I walked too near his (or her) nest (the 2 adults introduced off three chicks).  No, these things I’m pondering of is actually unusual.

You see, I had this male cardinal hanging round our home, and I do consider this hen was nuts. It started its day by attacking the mirrors on my pick-up truck. In reality, it spent a number of hours every day engaged in that sordid and (hopefully) futile exercise if I didn’t seem and ship it off in quest of different windmills to slay.

In fact I knew it was attacking the brand new rival male cardinal it noticed.  It was defending its close by nesting mate (4 chicks) and its territory. I totally realized there was a rational purpose for its continued self-abuse. 

However did it need to be so messy?

On most days each side of my practically new truck seemed prefer it was parked underneath a really giant roost of well-fed birds. I merely couldn’t consider a lot prosperous and goo might come from one three-ounce hen encased in scarlet plumage. 

And because the residue was comprised of the stays of candy wild black cherries it had filched from my tree it needs to be apparent to any of my 64 semi-regular readers as to each the prolong and high quality of mentioned residue and goo!.

Steve Walker, my very long time fishing and looking buddy again within the good previous days, prompt (most likely with tongue in cheek) a reasonably radical and completely remaining answer to my drawback. 

However, due to my occupation, background and in depth coaching, that plan of action was fully out of the query. Turning the mirrors in on their built-in hinges so the hen might now not see himself labored alright, nevertheless it was such a ache after I wished to drive someplace and forgot to show them again out first.

I assume one of the best I might hope for was that the nesting season ended quickly. As soon as the children fledged (study to fly from the nest), the adults would depart and my drawback could be over. 

Till the next yr, that’s.

Len Lisenbee is the Each day Messenger’s Outside Columnist. Contact him at lisenbee@frontiernet.web

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