Winter’s a great time for people to observe birds but it can be a tough season for the birds! Some species have left for warmer climates, but a few remain to brave out the cold. For the birds who don’t fly south, such as the Blue Jay, Black-Capped Chickadee, Nuthatch, and Tufted Titmouse, they have been collecting and storing food in hiding places for the lean winter months while food sources are plentiful (called caching) . However there’s always the risk that another hungry animal or bird may have discovered their stash and cleared them out! Some other species scrounge for insects in tree bark nooks and crannies, or look for hardy bayberry or juniper berries.
Many people have bird feeders to help the birds during the winter months, which is a great way to observe and track which birds are in your area. However, please do keep in mind that birds can become dependent on these sources of food once they have begun visiting a bird feeder, so try to be consistent during the winter months and until their spring food sources have returned!
Here is a recipe for Homemade Bird Treats you can make:
1 cup lard
1 cup peanut butter
1 ½ cups sunflower seeds
1 ½ cups chopped nuts
1 ½ cups quick oats
1 cup cornmeal
½ cup sugar
Melt the lard and peanut butter in a large pot. Stir in the remaining ingredients, a couple of cups at a time. The mix should be the consistency of cookie dough. If it’s too runny add some more cornmeal.
Spoon it into a shallow baking pan, and refrigerate until solid. Cut into squares, and using a sturdy straw, make a hole towards the top of each square so you can string a piece of yard to hang each square. Wrap the squares you are not using and store in the freezer.
And while you’re watching the birds flock to your homemade snack, here’s a handy observation sheet [PDF Download] for you to write down your observations and identifications!