Dear Annie, I live in New England and am faced with the harsh weather conditions that go along with it every year from November to March. Is there a special type of winter bird food that I should use during the winter time? – Eliza S., MA
Distracted by my life for four or five days in mid-January, I neglected to feed the birds and was horrified at how long it took for them to come back after I started up again. Five days? Normally birds swarm my feeders. I live near deep woods and they have a lot of cover, so they feel quite safe here. Did any birds die because I forgot them? I surely hope not.
If you are feeding the birds at your home in the winter, be scrupulous about continuing to feed all winter, because the birds will depend on your feeders as their mainstay, and without it could suffer and even die. Besides, providing food all winter will decrease the mortality rate of local birds in deep winter. Studies have shown that chickadees have a higher survival rate when they have access to a regularly filled bird feeder, especially during the worst types of winter weather.
What times of day to make sure your feeders are filled? Dawn and dusk. This is when birds tend to forage.
Here is a recipe for a Homemade Suet Cake from my book Home Enlightenment:
3 cups peanut butter
3 cups cornmeal
3 cups suet
Misc. assortment of raisins, grapes, rolled out, and cherries or other fruit
Mix it all together — throwing in small handfuls of assorted additions such as raisins–and mold into recycled plastic suet containers or small plastic tubs. Let the cakes turn solid, then pop them out to hang in a suet cage. Alternatively, you can press the mixture into pinecones and hang them from tree branches to offer food in a place where birds feel safe..
Have a question for Annie? Write to her at annie [@] thetruefind [dot] com!
By Annie B. Bond, the best-selling and award-winning author of five healthy/green living books, including Better Basics for the Home (Three Rivers Press, 1999), Home Enlightenment, Clean & Green (1990), and most recently True Food (National Geographic, 2010 and winner of Gourmand Awards Best Health and Nutrition Cookbook in the World). She has authored literally thousands of articles and was named “the foremost expert on green living” by Body & Soul magazine (2009).