Saturday, 16 March 2013

Getting ready for spring!


With spring comes a veritable bonanza of birds. Returning from their winter migration most are back to nest and enjoy the good weather!

Robin
You can expect to see returning Robins, Warblers, Sparrows, and, Wrens. The warmer months also brings back predators such as Kestrels and Sharp-Shinned Hawks. Though some ducks will Winter in the areas with open water most do migrate south. Feeding ducks is a popular past time for many, it’s encouraged to feed corn if available. Bread contains very little nutritional benefits to ducks, because they are simply empty calories. One of the largest birds that returns in the spring is the Great Blue Heron, if you live near water or have a cottage you’re surely familiar with this majestic bird. Its neighbour the Common Loon will also be back to lakes and ponds near you to nest.

Since most are indeed back to nest a great way to help out the birds this spring is to provide nesting material. Birds use twigs, grass, and, mud to build their nests. There are all sorts of materials you can put out for the birds like cut up bits of yarn, synthetic feathers, lint from your dryer, and, even the fur from the brush you use on your cats and dogs. Hang the material in a wire basket or place it on the ground in high traffic areas were the birds will easily notice it. While there is no guaranteed way to get a pair to nest in your yard combining nesting materials with nesting boxes is a great way to increase the odds.

Setting up a bird bath is also a great way to attract birds to your yard, especially those that do not feed at feeders. Water is important to birds not only for hydration but to keep their feathers clean and healthy. You must take care to clean it and change the water regularly to prevent the water from becoming stagnant. Not only will harmful bacteria grow but it will provide a ripe breeding ground for mosquitoes. 

Since many birds will have young this spring feeding provides a helpful dose of energy for busy parents. It should be noted though that most chicks will not eat grains and seeds. Meal worms, bugs, and, grubs can also be offered alongside your regular feeders. As the chicks begin to fledge you may see them at the feeders. By the time they do fledge and start to eat seeds they are for the most part full grown so they may be hard to differentiate from the older birds. The easiest way to tell them apart is by their feathers. They will still be sporting their juvenile plumage which generally isn't as bright and vibrant as their adult counterparts.

Last and certainly not least, Hummingbirds should be back in a matter of weeks! For more information on Hummingbirds and attracting them to your yard check out our post about these fun little birds.

The rush of spring can provide some of the best birding of the year so be sure to stop by the store and get everything you need before the birds arrive from their winter holiday!


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