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An Illinois River Almanac

Jason Haupt's Energy and Environment Blog

Feed The Birds


Winter is coming.  No, I am not a Game of Thrones fan; but let’s be honest, it is just around the corner.  Winter brings many changes. One of these is that many birds migrate out of the area in the fall.  But not all birds migrate for the winter.  There are several birds that are year round Illinois residents.  Another change that occurs is that seeds and berries are no longer being produced.  There is less food for the birds to find. This has become a bigger issue as cities and towns have expanded and fewer and fewer seed and berry-bearing plants are available for the birds to use.

But there is good news! You can help these feathered Illinois residents.  Now is the time to stock up on bird seed, suet plugs, and other bird foods. Though birds will utilize bird feeders throughout the year, the fall and winter months are when they need them most.  Providing a food source for the birds will help to keep the resident populations of many birds in the area and provide some interest to your yard in the winter months.

If you have the room, providing a variety of food types will increase the kinds of birds that you are able to attract. There are several species of bird that call Illinois home throughout the year. If you want to attract a specific type of bird, knowing what each bird will eat is a good way to start choosing the food for your birds.  Feederwatch.org has fantastic resources for choosing the right food and how to place feeders to best attract birds to your yard.

Putting up bird feeders is a good start to attracting birds, but the landscaping in your yard can also provide some great benefits to your new friends.  If you find you enjoy watching the birds at your feeders, you can enhance your yard to bring even more birds to your yard. Providing plants that produce seeds and berries can help attract birds to your yard.  Many of these plants also provide cover and shelter for the birds as well.

The last thing to consider is protecting the birds from the windows. Many birds strike windows in the fall and winter months. Clouding the window with soap on the outside can help, as birds often fly into windows when it reflects the outside habitat. Pulling curtains and turning off lights can enhance the reflection. Hanging streamers, netting or other materials can also deter birds from flying into windows.  Putting silhouettes on windows is another way to prevent birds from striking the windows.

For more information on attracting birds to your yard this fall and winter, contact Jason Haupt (jdhaupt@illinois.edu).

 



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