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November is for the (Song) Birds By Myrna Pearman

  • November 8, 2022
  • Written by Audra Cooper

As winter weather starts to descend upon us this month, backyard bird feeding enthusiasts focus their attention on our avian neighbours. The birds of summer have long migrated south, and those resident species that live year-round in our northern climates can benefit from the provision of habitat (space within which creatures can find food, water and shelter).

Having access to high-calorie birdseed is critically important to help them survive our harsh prairie winters, and Mother Nature’s Songbird Mix is an excellent mixture to offer them during the dark cold winter months. This carefully crafted blend contains a wide variety of seeds that will appeal to all our winter feeder birds.

Songbird Mix has a 50% base of sunflower seeds, both black oil and striped. Sunflower seeds are the most popular of all feeder fare and will be eagerly devoured by a wide variety of species ranging from the larger jays and grosbeaks to the mid-sized woodpeckers and finches and to the smaller chickadees and nuthatches.

The sunflowers in this blend are complemented by other high-quality seeds: the canola and canary grass will be eaten by finches (including redpolls); the millet will be dined on by many sparrow species as well as doves, blackbirds and finches; and the cracked corn will be relished by grouse and jays as well as some sparrow, finch and blackbird species.

Songbird mix can be served from different styles of feeders. During the spring and fall, when native sparrows and blackbirds are migrating through, small quantities can be spread on the ground. But to reduce waste and protect the seeds from getting wet or snowed on, it is advisable to dispense this blend from tube feeders, hopper feeders and/or covered tray feeders. If possible, place the feeders in a sunny, sheltered location away from harsh prevailing winds.

Complement this excellent mix with some suet, which can be served raw (directly from the butcher), melted and mixed with other ingredients, or in the form of commercial suet cakes. Suet cakes consist of suet blended with small seeds and other ingredients. Choose a brand that has a high protein content. These suet cakes, which fit into small wire dispensers, make offering suet easy and mess-free.

Offering a water source will also help both feeder and non-feeder bird species, especially during the late fall before there is sufficient snowfall. A small pan or water will suffice, or a commercial heated bird bath will keep the water open even during cold temperatures.