WV Wildlife: Winter Bird Feeding

Hanging platform feeders are good at attracting several different birds to one area. (WCHS/WVAH)

Their sounds may make you think more about spring.

But don't overlook them during the winter, either.

In fact, this is when some birds would appreciate us the most--when their natural food supply is lesser.

At Birds, Blooms and Butterflies in Hurricane, Robert O'Quinn--the owner there--says there's actually a nice variety of birds around our region this time of the year.

"Your Cardinals, your Gold finches. A lot of people don't realize they stay here, although the male turns a very muted brown. Various other types of Finches, which are very popular, Tufted Titmouse, the Nut Hatches, even the Eastern Bluebird, and of course, we have a variety of Woodpeckers", said O’Quinn.

Deciding to feed our birds doesn't make them dependent, either. O’Quinn says that bird feeders only account for 10-15% of their diet.

"Some of the most common types of seed for birds that really draw in the most coveted, colorful songbirds would be your black oil sunflower, your safflower seed, your striped sunflower seed".

Millet and even mealworms can also bring them in.

As for picking a feeder? O’Quinn says there are a lot of options for different birds.

"I like to break it down to three primary feeders, or feeding areas. One is your primary feeder--and typically that's a tube--and that's where you put your primary mix seed that attracts the biggest cross-section of the most colorful birds. Ground-feeding birds, so you would have some platform feeders on the ground, or halfway up a pole, and then you have your specialty feeders--such as your suet feeders and cake feeders".

No matter which feeder you choose, just make sure you clean it at least every 3 months--as diseases could become a problem otherwise.

And keep an eye out on those squirrels, too; they’ve been known to munch on bird seed a time or two.

"How do I keep the pesky squirrel from eating my expensive bird feed? You have to hang your feeder to where it's at least 4 1/2 feet off the ground, and then keep it away from a structure by at least 12 feet", said O’Quinn.

For more information on feeding birds, you can go online to our DNR’s website—WVDNR.GOV--and click on the Black Bear Icon. There, you can find the brochure--'For the Birds'.

"West Virginia is really known nationally as a very good state for bird watching", said O’Quinn.

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