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Food for the Birds: April Edition

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Though it may still be cold in your part of the country, spring is officially here!  Along with longer days, warmer temperatures, and the occasional April shower (or snowstorm, depending on where you live), you should also start seeing an increase in the number and variety of birds visiting your neighborhood this month.  Robins, orioles, and hummingbirds are just a few of the birds that you will start seeing (or seeing more of) as we start to leave winter in our rear-view.  So, what types of food should you use in April?

In your seed feeders, we recommend that you use a mix similar to the one that you used in March – roughly 65% black oil sunflower seeds, and 20% to 30% white millet with the remainder made of peanuts, safflower, and striped sunflower seeds.  You can also add some variety to your mix with some sunflower chips (shelled-seeds).  If you fill a Nyjer/thistle feeder, make sure to keep it well stocked this month – April is usually when male goldfinches turn their brilliant yellow color!

Seed cakes and suet will definitely help to attract non-seed eating birds to your backyard, and it is still usually cold enough to use regular suet, however, if you live in a warmer part of the country, think about transitioning to a no-melt suet dough.  If you do live in a warmer climate, it may also be ‘OK’ to start using live meal worms in your platform/tray feeders.  Roasted meal worms will definitely bring visitors to your yard, but the movement from live meal worms will draw an even bigger crowd of hungry birds.

Finally, we get to oriole and hummingbird feeders.  Hummingbirds and orioles are on their way north, and activity from these birds will increase drastically over the next few weeks.  If you live in the south, now is definitely the time to put at least one hummingbird and oriole feeder out.  Just make sure to keep an eye on it.  If it’s been a few days and it doesn’t seem to be getting much traffic, clean it out, replace the nectar, and try it in a different spot in your yard.  Traffic will most certainly increase over the coming weeks and months, but it may just be that the birds are having a hard time finding the feeder.  If you live in the north, you won’t see as many hummingbirds or orioles as our neighbors in the south, but you would be surprised at how far these birds may already be in their migration.  You don’t need to fill every nectar feeder you own, but when in doubt, put it out!

Another thing to keep in mind is that all types of birds are looking for fresh water.  Even though streams, lakes, rivers, and other bodies of water are thawing out, employing a bird bath is absolutely one of the best ways to increase bird traffic in your yard or garden, regardless of the feeders or type of food that you use.  Happy spring, and as always, have fun!