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Food for the Birds: What to feed the birds in March

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Winter 2013-2014 has certainly been a tough one for much of the United States.  Crippling storms in the south, near-record breaking ice cover on the Great Lakes (there’s still time to break the record of 94.7% coverage from 1979), and the term “polar vortex” entering the nation’s collective lexicon were just some of the highlights from the frigid winter.  Fortunately for many people across the country, spring is in sight.  Along with moving our clocks ahead an hour last weekend, we also took the opportunity to make sure we had everything prepared for our bird visitors going into the exciting spring and summer months.  Providing the right food for your feathered friends is one especially important step to take over the next few weeks, for several reasons.

Though it is still a bit early for large bird migrations in North America, many birds will be fueling up for their long journeys, or will begin their trips this month.  If you provide seed for your backyard birds, a mix of at least 60% black-oil sunflower seed and 20% to 30% white millet with the remainder made of peanuts, safflower, and striped sunflower will make your backyard an extremely popular spot for all types of birds.  This March mix is great because it will attract all types of seed eating birds, some of which may reside in your area while others are simply passing through – either way, there’s something for everyone. 

Songbird Essentials Fly Thru Barn Feeder

We recommend using several feeders spread around your yard in order to give the birds visiting your yard options for seed.  Using a weather dome or a fly-thru feeder (right) will help to keep the mix in your feeder dry if you live in an area that may still receive some spring snow!

March is also a great time to place suet and seed cakes for your backyard visitors.  Use a dedicated suet cage secured to a log in order to attract woodpeckers, nuthatches, and bushtits, among many others.  Using normal suet is still ‘ok’ for most places across the country, it’s not warm enough to warrant the no-melt suet dough.  Mealworms are also a great treat for the birds passing through your backyard or garden.  If it is still cold in your area, use dried/roasted meal worms and place them in your platform or tray feeders, or by your suet feeders so that the birds can find them easily.

Above all, make sure to have fun!  Experiment with placement and number of feeders to find the combination that works best for your backyard.  If a certain feeder is attracting birds that are subsequently chasing other favorable birds from your backyard, relocate the feeder or adjust the mix that you’re filling that feeder with.  Take care to keep your feeders well stocked, and you will have the chance to see a lot of birds that are not always in your neighborhood, or you may welcome back old friends that are returning for another great season!