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For our Fine Feathered Friends

January 27th, 2009

We feed the birds in the winter here at Chiot’s Run. In the summer only the hummingbirds get free food, but we have plenty to eat around here with all the plants and bugs in the summer for the other birds. In the fall I made sure I leave the seed heads on all of my flowers because the birds eat those. But in the winter, we make sure that we feed our little feathered friends.
We feed them because we enjoy watching them (as do the cats). With so little else going on in the garden during the winter, it’s nice to be able to look outside and see signs of life.
We also feed them to keep them healthy. As they lose their habitat due to logging and urban sprawl they are often lacking food sources; so they are in need of a little help, especially in the cold winter months. Birds are great pest control in the gardens, so we want them here at Chiot’s Run. They naturally prey on insects like mosquitoes, cabbage worms, and other pests.

During cold snaps, you will almost certainly notice more birds coming into your garden to seek sanctuary from the harsher environment in the countryside – particularly if you provide food on a regular basis. The variety of species may increase too and you may be lucky enough to attract unusual visitors.

Finding a regular source of high-energy food such as a garden feeding station is the equivalent of winning the lottery for wild birds and a well-stocked garden is a real lifesaver.

Birds will become dependent on the food you supply, so it is important to make sure your feeders are kept topped up to prevent them from having a wasted visit. Providing a fresh, ice-free supply of water is another cold weather essential – drinking and bathing is a vital part of the daily routine of birds.

You may well witness a flurry of bird activity first thing in the morning – as they replenish energy lost overnight – and last thing in the afternoon – to prepare for the long night ahead.

The smallest birds, like blue tits and goldcrests, have to effectively feed throughout the hours of daylight in winter and consume a vast quantity of food – as much as 30% of their body weight – to make sure they build the necessary fat reserves to get them through the long, cold nights.

We provide a few different kinds of food for various birds in our area. We have a finch feeder full of nyjer seed, 1 feeder with a bird seed mix, 1 feeder full of black sunflower seeds, and a suet cake feeder for the woodpeckers. We also provide fresh water for our feathered friends with a heated bird bath.
Our bird feeders not only attract birds but also other animals like rabbits, opossums, and the cunning squirrel. We actually have 3 different kinds of squirrels that attempt to get into our bird feeders.
We don’t mind the rabbits and the opossums because they just eat off of the ground underneath the feeders. But the squirrels get in the feeder and empty it rather quickly. So we try to keep them away.
So how do we keep these little furry thieves out of our bird feeders? With hot peppers, I mix hot sauce with some oil and coat my bird seed with it. Works like a charm!

So do you feed your fine feathered friends?

8 Comments to “For our Fine Feathered Friends”
  1. N. on January 27, 2009 at 7:32 am

    We fed the birds at our last apartment but here we have no place to hang the feeders that is safe from the feral cats. There are 3 or 4 cats that hang out in the alleys and back patios here so unfortunately the birds stay away.

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  2. Mangochild on January 27, 2009 at 8:03 am

    I want to, but I worry about attracting other animals that I wouldn’t want nearby…. there are ways around that I know, but I am a bit too antsy.
    The info on how birds feed and the amount of energy/time in the day they expend is eye-opening, I’d never realized that. Though it makes sense when I think about it, flying about and keeping warm is hard!

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  3. Kelly on January 27, 2009 at 8:58 am

    You have some great feeders! We only have one but we do keep our friends fed. Charlie LOVES watching all the birds. Harley LOVES to chase them.

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  4. Susy on January 27, 2009 at 10:42 am

    That’s so funny Kelly. We trained Lucy to chase the squirrels before she got injured. She’s run out there barking at them and chase them up a tree. Great fun for a dog!

    Reply to Susy's comment

  5. warren on January 27, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    We’ve always fed the birds, since I was a kid. We still do it now…black oil and suet mainly. Squirrels used to be a huge problem so we bought all sorts of contraptions to keep them out…most of them actually worked. We have a stray cat problem now which has really cut the squirrel problem down.

    Anyhow, I love to watch the birds…we provide houses in the summer. It’s awesome to hear the baby birds and see the parents carrying in food, etc

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  6. lee on January 27, 2009 at 7:10 pm

    I feed the pigeons 3 cups of seeds in the morning six days a week near where I work. Does that count?

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  7. Susy on January 27, 2009 at 11:29 pm

    Sure Lee that counts, they’re fine feathered friends!

    Reply to Susy's comment

  8. Joe on January 28, 2009 at 8:12 pm

    Haha, I like the squirrel picture!

    Reply to Joe's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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