More than 75 percent of Mississippians are bird feeders and observers. For these birdwatchers, this means preparing for winter feeding. During winter months our short supply of natural food sources can be supplemented with artificial feeding. This type of feeding will provide birdwatchers a convenient way to view a variety of species. Here are some tips on attracting winter birds.

The first step is preparing winter feeders. Feeders should be cleaned thoroughly. For starters, there are three basic types of feeders designed to offer a variety of foods: a hanging type feeder; a ground or tray feeder; and a suet feeder.

The hanging type feeder should be placed away from one’s home in an area that will provide clear viewing. The most common type of seed used with hanging feeders is sunflower. The ground or tray feeder should be placed near plant cover. The most common seed associated with the tray feeder is cracked corn; however, other seed mixtures work well. Suet feeders are a favorite of woodpeckers, chickadees, titmice and nuthatches.

The second step in preparing your bird feeder is selecting the seed. Seeds such as sunflower, safflower, millet and thistle seeds are fool—proof. Store seed in a clean, dry area to prevent mold and mildew. Covered containers such as metal trash cans are excellent storage facilities for birdseed.

The next step is providing water for the birds. Water is important since all birds need water both for drinking and bathing. The best types of birdbaths available are the synthetic plastic baths. Synthetic plastics, such as polypropylene, have rough surfaces and will tolerate all extremities in temperatures. In extremely cold temperatures, you will need to keep water open at your birdbath. This can be done by either adding warm water as needed or by using an electric water heater.

A good feeding plan should include all three types of feeders. Different types of feeders appeal to different species of birds. To attract the birds and keep them coming back, you should clean feeders and birdbaths regularly and dispose of old or moldy food. Those of you who have a feeding plan may want to add additional feeders to enhance your existing area for birding.

If you are just beginning in the birding “business,” you may want to purchase a field guide to the birds in your area. There are many quality guides on the market, so pick the one that best fits your need.

The final step is easy. Fill your feeders, sit back and enjoy.



James L. Cummins is Executive Director of Wildlife Mississippi, the Foundation is a non—profit organization founded to conserve, restore and enhance fish, wildlife and plant resources throughout Mississippi. Their web site is www.wildlifemiss.org.

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