Wow, this winter is really an extended one for us! Granted, I realize there are places all over the country faring much worse than we are, but nonetheless, the locals around my neck of the woods are grumbling.."Is it over yet?" with heavy sighs. Winter fatigue has set in. To overcome the gray, often dull, cold days of January, I have found my own personal way of dealing. I keep my bird feeders filled.
I get calm satisfaction seeing flocks of goldfinches, cardinal pairs, juncos, tufted titmouse, hairy woodpeckers, blue jays, red bellied woodpeckers and chickadees among the daily feeders. I don't even mind the local crows. I do have a problem with the brown-headed cowbirds over running the feeders, but that will probably be more toward the end of February when they return. Those birds are parasites in every sense of the word and they run the regulars out, but for now, I can enjoy my local feathered friends.
Bird feeding through the winter is a relatively inexpensive past-time, in my opinion. If you have children it's a great way to teach them various local bird species which can then lead into a more widespread interest even life long hobby.
When my sons were small, and as something we could do together through the winter, they learned the species that frequented our feeders.My oldest son was so enthusiastic about birds for a few years he completed a 4H project and a science fair project on birds. In college he took an ornithology class that took a trip to Lake Erie during the spring migration time. Birding has turned into a lifelong hobby for him just as it has for me. I've enjoyed birds and winter feeding since I was a kid. I can even remember making a simple bird feeder out of a cardboard milk carton bottom.
Over the years I've had a variety of bird feeder types. I've finally found the ones I think are the best I've ever had and they weren't terribly expensive. I found them at TSC. They' are metal wire mesh tube feeders with twist top and bottom for easy fill and cleaning. I've also come upon the easiest combination of seed and feed: black oil sunflower seeds, thistle seed, and a suet block or two. A little corn doesn't hurt but not really necessary. I've watched the crows and blue jays ignore the corn and go for the sunflower seeds. The bulk seed with the little white millet seeds is really a waste. You'll notice, the birds don't eat it. It's simply fill for bulk sale. If you want the best bargain and the most complete feed, buy straight sunflower seeds and thistle seed.
Snowing again this morning but when I look out my window and see the birds flying in and out from the feeders, perching and eating at my four feeders it takes my mind off the weather. In reality, they'd survive fine without the feed. They'd find a way, but I guess a little part of me feels gratification that I can help them, or at least think I'm helping them, get through a long, cold winter here in Southern Ohio.