By Susan Chapin, Fairfield
How would you like to be barefoot in this snow this winter with no hat or gloves, and trying to find what little food might be there - in a foot of snow? Well, our birds and animals have to do just that, so I hope that anyone reading this letter, will have compassion on them, and take up a new hobby. Feeding the birds and watching them come to partake in your efforts is both enjoyable and rewarding, but the most important thing is that you are then supporting the dwindling bird population that make our outdoor world, a much better place to live.
There is a book I recommend called the Silence of the Songbirds, by Dr. Bridget Stutchbury. She researched and describes the many factors threatening songbirds, and most of them are man-made.
A presentation I organized 12 years ago, by the Minnesota Audubon Society, showed alarming statistics that the overall songbird population is down by 50 percent in just the last 50 years. Many of us born over a half century ago, have noticed a serious reduction in the numbers of bird showing up in the woods and towns, with each passing year.
For decades, the almost loud singing of birds in the early morning would wake me up, if the windows were open, but in the 1990s it changed, radically. It became quiet in the mornings.
Did you know that birds need to eat at least one-third of their body weight in bird seed, every day, to keep their body temperature up to survive? We can help our birds stay alive this winter, and other seasons, by putting out feeders; the more feeders you put up, the more they will be attracted to your yard. As most birds will on the ground, try clearing patches of snow and putting seed down--or under bushes to preserve from falling snow.
I brought in two Christmas trees, leaning them up against the deck, so to give birds shelter from the wind and storm as well as from predators such as hawks and cats.
Most people don’t like squirrels eating all the food, well I have given up on that issue. They need to survive as well. All the food that was on the ground in the fall, is either long gone or covered up with the snow, so at least give them corn. I even feed the crows - they don’t eat bird seed, but cut up pizza or peanuts will make them happy.
My favorite birds, of course, are the red cardinals. They want open style feeders - ones they can fly into and out of easier, or a larger feeder, with enough distance between the perches and the feeder itself. But the big concern is cats, who kill many birds. Please keep cats indoors, as much as you can! Especially in the early morning and evening when birds are most often eating.
Don’t forget that bird/animals need water year round and in the winter, heated water is essential. So if you have a feeder out there already, please get it filled this week! And if you haven’t tried this before, I hope you’ll care enough to help take care of our dwindling bird population.