But Will They
Still Leave, You Ask?
Put out raisins or dried cranberries for a treat for bluebirds, if they are around.
Feeding wild birds in the autumn will not prevent them from migrating South for the winter. Natural instinct is a very dominating factor in bird behavior. When they feel the urge and need to go, they will, regardless.
Wild bird feeding in your backyard during the autumn is actually very important, for it’s the time of year when wild birds are preparing for their long journey to the South. Because they are trying to stock up on body fat, wild birds will frequent feeders more often and remain longer. If wild birds have become accustomed to your feeders all summer long as a source of food, taking them down could cause them some hardship. Birds develop a route of several feeding stations which they visit throughout the day. If it is removed before the wild birds have left, they may not have stored up sufficient body fat for a successful migration. Plus, in the Fall the natural sources they have dined at during the summer may be depleted…their main source of sustenance may be your feeder.
Many species of birds overwinter in Kent. Even bluebirds will stay for the winter if they have a warm shelter, food and water. Here are a few ideas to help our feathered friends make it through the winter.
Provide winter hardy food like Suet Cakes. They’re high fat content offers energy-rich nutrition to help birds keep warm. Another excellent fuel source, Black Oil Sunflower seeds are liked by most of our native birds.
Providing shelter from freezing cold temperatures and raw winds is important. Cavity nesters, like Downey Woodpeckers, Chickadees, Titmice and Bluebirds will welcome a few birdhouses left out over the winter. A Roosting House will give them an even warmer place to stay.
Unlike regular birdhouses, roosting boxes are uniquely designed with the opening at the bottom and no air vents in the top to reduce heat loss. Other birds shelter in thickets. You can help them by planting hedge rows, group plantings, and trees and shrubs that grow berries that will stay on the branches through the winter. Crabapples, Mountain Ash and Junipers are good plants.
Water is also a difficult commodity to find in winter, but a necessity. If you have a source of water, the birds will not have to expend energy (heat) in melting snow to hydrate themselves. Check your local garden supply for devices that can keep a pan of water, birdbath or pond from freezing over during the cold of winter.
Therefore you can continue your wild bird feeding practices and leave seed feeders and suet feeders out during the autumn season and continue on into the winter feeding months.
The Northern Cardinal is a familier resident each winter season, but in Ohio’s early statehood the songbird was scarce. It wasn't until trees were cleared for farming and development that the environment became suitable for our scarlet friends. It is also the state bird of seven states – more than any other species.