DNR questions of the week: Helping our feathered friends survive

Q: Not every bird species migrates from Minnesota to warmer climates down south before winter sets in; some stay behind. Is there anything that can be done to help these brave birds survive winter?

A: An easy plan for winter bird feeding is to provide three main choices of food: large seeds, small seeds and suet. Black-oil sunflower seeds and cardinal mixes have the greatest appeal to the broadest variety of winter birds and contain a high-energy content.

Water is a critical ingredient of a winter-feeding program. There are excellent birdbaths with heating elements and thermostats available from bird feeding supply stores. The heated water is primarily for drinking. Don’t worry about birds freezing if they bathe on a cold winter day because native song birds seem smart enough not to bathe when the wind chill is 40 below.

For more information on winter bird feeding, check out the DNR Web site at www.mndnr.gov/birdfeeding/winter/index.html

–Carrol Henderson, DNR Nongame Wildlife Program supervisor

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