Spring is an amazing birding season and great for feeding birds. In spring, not only are year-round resident birds eager to visit feeders as winter food supplies run low, but returning migrants need reliable food sources as they head north to their breeding grounds, and well-stocked bird feeders are a popular choice.
Birds eat many things, from seeds and grain to insects, fruit and nectar, but in early spring all these food sources are scarce and there is fierce competition for available food. Backyard birders can provide more food and help all birds enjoy a nutritious, healthy diet by…
- Cleaning and repairing bird feeders. Winter ice buildup and storms can damage feeders, and winter flocks can leave feces and other debris on the feeders. As spring warms up, feeders should be thoroughly cleaned with a weak bleach solution, and any repairs should be made.
- Adding extra feeders. As spring birds arrive in the backyard, more birds will be jostling for space at the feeders. Putting out additional feeders will help more birds access the food, and using different feeder styles – open platforms, large hoppers, multi-perch tubes, etc. – will appeal to different birds' feeding styles and will minimize aggressive competition for feeding space.
- Providing a variety of foods. Different birds prefer different foods, and offering a better variety in the backyard will attract a wider range of hungry spring birds. Sunflower seeds, suet, mealworms, nectar, fruit, peanut butter and mixed birdseed should all be available for spring birds to sample.
- Minimizing pesticides. Insects are a key food source for many spring birds and provide essential protein for nesting birds and hungry chicks. The more birds there are in the backyard, the more insects they will eat – providing natural pest control – and minimizing pesticide use will prevent accidental toxic contamination of birds.
- Providing water. Just as birds need healthy food in spring, clean, fresh water is also essential. Clean and disinfect bird baths, and consider adding a bird bath fountain or solar fountain to the yard to attract birds with splashing noises.
Birds are hungry in spring, and feeding them well is a great way to enjoy backyard birds and meet their spring needs. As those needs are met, birds are likely to take up residence in the yard, leading to a bird-filled summer as well and more backyard birding fun to come.