Thursday, 4 July 2013

Summer Birding

There is a common misconception surrounding summer bird feeding. Many believe that it is both unnecessary to feed in the summer and that it can make birds lazy and dependent.

The truth of the matter is that birds only get about 25% of their daily food from feeders. Food is abundant during the summer months with many types of insects and seeds available in the wild. While it is not strictly necessary to feed during the summer, it is also unnecessary to feed during the winter. Birds are incredibly resourceful. The entire purpose of bird feeding is really down to personal enjoyment. If you love having birds and activity in your yard then by all means feed away!
There are also many benefits to summer feeding.

During the summer we benefit from longer days allowing the birds to frequent feeders for a longer period of time which in turn makes bird watching easier and more enjoyable. Another benefit to feeding the birds in the summer is that birds are in their summer plumage make identification easier. The bright colours and markings are also prettier than the drab winter plumage. In the spring and summer you also get a chance to watch the birds raising their young. You will often see fledglings at the feeders with their parents. Also, providing a constant source of food and water is a sure fire way to encourage the birds to nest in your yard. Try putting out a woodpecker house or owl house for something different!

Be sure, though, to give the birds a wide birth should they nest in your yard. If they sense that they are endangered it is common for them to abandon their eggs and start a new nest in another area. It should also be noted that parents rarely leave their chicks for long and do not need assistance from nosy birders!

One of the greatest pleasures of summer feeding is the hummingbird. These quick little birds are exciting to watch and easy to please. A simple sugar/water mixture, or “just add water” concentrate, is all you need. Along with a feeder of course!
Summer feeding isn’t without its downsides though; there are a few things to consider before you fill your feeders!

During the summer it is vital to keep feeders clean. If it rains or if it is very humid there is the possibility that mold and bacteria begin to grow in the seed. This can be harmful to the birds. Cleaning your feeders regularly is a must.

The same is to be said about bird baths. It is important to make sure the water does not become stagnant. Not only will this provide a breeding ground for mosquitoes but also bacteria that may be harmful to birds and their plumage. This is not to discourage putting out a bird bath. It is actually important to provide the birds with a fresh constant source of water for drinking and keeping their feathers in top condition. Adding something to keep the water moving is a great way to discourage mosquitoes from laying their eggs in your bird bath, birds are also more attracted to moving water. Consider adding small rocks or pebbles to your bird bath if it is deep to encourage the birds to use it.

There is also the threat of raccoons and other animals that may get into your feeders. If you see these animals in your yard or hear that they are in the neighbourhood it is advised that you take your feeders down for a few days, they will move on if there is nothing around to eat. Common sense dictates that these animals will be far more attracted to the smell of garbage, barbeques, and, fruit trees, than the bird seed. They are not seeking it but will, of course, dig in if they come across some!

You may also consider taking advantage of the good weather and join a birding group! Summer birding can be a real treat, so grab your binoculars and get out there!

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