Why is this a Difficult Time For Wild Birds?
Feeding wild birds in the spring can be an exciting time for bird watching. Every day it seems there are new visitors to your backyard.
Male Painted Bunting
But, while it may be a great time for humans, Spring can be a crucial point in time for our feathered friends.
They have just arrived after their long migration back north. But no matter how much fatigue they may feel, the stress on their bodies has just begun.
Natural sources of food may not yet be available or easily accessible such as insects and plant seeds. And if there has been a recent surprise late season snowstorm for those in the northern regions food sources may be covered up or hiding!
Upon arrival the wild birds have lots of tasks ahead of them. They must stake out and lay claim to a breeding territory, undertake mating practices, build a bird nest and care for baby birds. This process takes humans many years to complete.
But time is not on the side of our backyard birds. They have to get all of these requirements of life completed in just a few short months.
As a backyard bird feeder you can help by feeding wild birds in the spring. Attracting backyard birds to your yard will bring many rewards as you observe all their interesting behaviours!
Not only will you have the joy of watching wild birds, but you will be helping them with baby bird care and raising their young through the fledging stage.
How to Prepare for Feeding Wild Birds in the Spring?
The best way to get ready for the wild birds in the spring is to be prepared in advance of their expected arrival.
A good way to do this is to start keeping a journal of the time of arrival of each species to your backyard bird feeders and bird houses each year.
Or, keep an eye on your local birding club’s reports of bird sightings in your area.
Then two weeks before their anticipated arrival start preparing.
- backyard bird feeders, bird baths and bird houses are checked to make sure that they are in proper functioning condition
- a quick rinsing with warm water and detergent gets rid of the dust for those that have been in winter storage
- the feeders are filled with fresh seed, syrup or suet.
It must be kept in mind that just because the wild birds arrived on a certain date the previous year, does not mean that they will drop in the same day this year or next. But, by keeping a journal an average arrival date can be determined.
“Why the intensive preparations?”
This is a stressful time in the lives of birds. Feeding wild birds in the spring will help to relieve their task of finding food, one of the many tasks they have to do.
Bird migration is long,tiring and dangerous. Finding food along the way may be difficult at times.
As soon as they arrive they have to fight for territory and find a mate.
Then begins the process of building a bird nest or finding a cavity or location that is just right. Incubating eggs and then the non-stop job of feeding their young.
This all has to happen in a few months so they can prepare for the long trip in the autumn back to southern regions.
If our feathered friends arrive at a well-stocked and well-prepared backyard area, they will not only stay for the summer, but probably return the following spring.
This is another important fact, that the backyard, the young birds are raised in, will be their destination when they return the next year.
They will still have to stake a territory, but they too will make the vicinity of your backyard their annual destination. This will be true for their young as well.
Consequently, over the course of a few years you will develop quite a little community in your backyard area. Attracting backyard birds just got a whole lot easier, as the natural habits of wild birds takes over!
Also, remember nature does not always cooperate with good weather in the spring of the year. If your yard is in a northerly area and if a spring snowstorm occurs, your bird feeders and bird houses will offer a welcome sanctuary.
What to Put on the Menu for Feeding Wild Birds in the Spring?
- Fresh clean seed: If you do feed the birds in the winter and even if you don’t, do take time to inspect any seed that might have been around all winter. Make sure that mould is not present and that there are no parasitic insects. After all, if we are attracting backyard birds we want to keep our feathered friends happy and healthy.
- Suet: During this stressful time, suet is a great source of energy. The cooler weather, the stress of finding a mate and building a nest, and the energy expended raising and feeding the baby birds can all be alleviated to a great degree by suet.
We use this rich energy food twelve months of the year.
Many people who feed wild birds are concerned about the mess of suet in the warmer weather.
There are suet products now available on the market that are made for
summer use and will not melt, unless of course they are left in the full
There are many styles of suet holders available and sometimes come attached to chalet feeders on the sides.
The “All In One Station” also makes it possible to attract a wider variety of birds with seed and suet.
There are also instructions on this web site, on how to prepare your own suet, that can be used in the warmer weather of the spring and summer months here.
Suet feeding wild birds in the spring and summer months can provide an
added bonus for attracting backyard birds.
We have noted that our backyard has a wider diversity of birds now, as a variety of Woodpeckers (the Red-headed Woodpecker) and the Brown Creeper who normally do not visit bird feeders very often, now visit our suet feeding stations on an almost daily basis.
- Syrup: About two weeks prior to the expected arrival of the Hummingbirds and the Orioles, it is important to have clean fresh syrup in your Hummingbird and Oriole feeders. There are a few reasons for this advance preparation:
- The birds may arrive early.
- If the weather is cooler than normal the availability of nectar from natural sources may be unavailable.
- Other birds, particularly House Finches, enjoy a slurp from Hummingbird or Oriole feeders from time to time.
- The energy gleaned from the syrup is appreciated during this very stressful time in the bird community.
- Bird Baths are critical as all birdlife require water to drink for survival and for bathing.
What Other Delights Are Waiting When Feeding Wild Birds In The Spring?
We have talked about feeding wild birds in the spring in terms of birds that will come and remain in your backyard for the spring and summer months.
But also be aware that bird feeders will provide another valuable service to wild birds.
Many bird migration routes take feathered friends much further north than where you may be located.
If you have well-stocked bird feeders in your yard, passing migrating birds will stop to “Re-fuel”.
They will also remember year after year, if your bird feeding efforts are consistent, and stop by every year on their bi-annual migration route.
Migration seasons also cause birds to stray for various reasons and very often end up in an area which is not their usual habitat. These rare sightings are terribly fascinating!
Not only is feeding wild birds in the spring good for the birds, but it will also give you an opportunity to view feathered friends that are not necessarily native to your region, right in your own backyard.
How great is that!!!
Think you might need to make some additions to your backyard offerings?
Here are some of my top choices to make it easier!
Fruit & Jelly Feeders
Top Choice Window Bird Feeders
Attract Goldfinches With Nyjer Seed Feeders
Hopper Style Bird Feeders
More About Spring Bird Feeding
- Spring Bird Feeding An exciting time when wild birds return to their northern breeding grounds after their long migration.
- Bird Watching Guide March Bird watching guide March explains the 7 most important tasks that need to be done for backyard bird feeding as winter wanes and spring grows stronger.
The Other 3 Seasons
- Summer Bird Feeding
A very rewarding season to feed and house wild birds. There is such a variety of bird life and feathered family activity to enjoy.
- Fall Bird Feeding
Some people think that bird feeding in the autumn is not a good idea. They mistakenly believe that their feeders will keep the birds from migrating. Find out the truth.
- Winter Bird Feeding
Bird watching in the winter months provides many rewards for us. We can’t help ourselves from wanting to assist them by putting out a bird feeder.