Birds such as downy woodpeckers that are accustomed to feeders must trust that their food sources remain stocked over the winter.

Keep those feeders stocked in winter

With care, you can have a garden full of birds to watch all winter.

Colder nights and wet days mean tough times for small birds, and many come to gardens and yards in search of food.

Some are migrants spending the winter at the coast, having nested at higher altitudes or in more northern areas of the province.

Providing bird feeders gives us an opportunity to enjoy their presence.

Seed feeders attract many species, including flocks of dark-eyed juncos.

This very common winter visitor can be well-camouflaged on the ground, but seldom stays still.

The flock’s erratic movements help them avoid predators such as the Cooper’s hawk or merlin.

White-crowned sparrows, house finches and bushtits also travel in flocks, for safety and company.

Bushtits are tiny grey birds with long tails, that nest locally, building pendulous nests in gardens and parks. In fall, they gather into larger and larger flocks, sometimes as many as seventy together, and roam around feeding on aphids and other small insects.

Anne MurrayThey will readily come to a suet feeder and are a comical sight when they all try to gather on it at once.

Suet is also good for attracting downy woodpeckers and is a nutritious alternative for resident chickadees and nuthatches, which spend much of their time at seed feeders.

To keep squirrels away, try using hot pepper-flavoured suet blocks, as the birds are not affected by the taste.

Anna’s hummingbirds used to be uncommon in B.C., but these southern birds have moved steadily north over the last two decades and now regularly nest in Delta.

They survive the cold by eating insects and also come to nectar feeders.

If you start using a feeder, you should commit to keeping it freshly topped up, as the tiny, fast-moving birds will rely on it in a sudden cold snap.

When positioning bird feeders, it is advisable to have bushes fairly close, so that birds can escape if a predator appears.

Very many birds die by hitting windows, so feeders should be placed either well away from buildings or within one metre of the glass.

This prevents flying birds from gaining speed and injuring themselves on impact. Ultra-violet, leaf-shaped window decals work well as a glass alert, and are unobtrusive for people looking out.

Domestic cats are also a major danger for small birds and should be kept indoors as much as possible.

With care, you can have a garden full of birds to watch all winter.

Anne Murray is a local naturalist and author of A Nature Guide to Boundary Bay and Tracing Our Past – A Heritage Guide to Boundary Bay, available at book stores; visit www.natureguidesbc.com

Just Posted

Mother’s death causes singer to cancel Surrey Fusion Festival performance

Revised schedule released with Mankirt Aulakh replacing Sharry Mann

Toilet, bathtub among junk dumped behind Scott Road thrift store, costing operators money

‘I wish people would appreciate what we do, and not dump their stuff,’ frustrated manager says

Cars keyed on BC Ferries after alarms bother dog on board

Delta police arrested one passenger on suspicion of mischief

TONIGHT: Eagle Eyes to headline Concerts for the Pier in White Rock

East Beach event to feature The Fab Fourever

New day camp for Surrey children living with cancer, blood disorders

West Coast Kids Cancer Foundation running another session at Surrey school

Feds lowered poverty line, reducing the number of seniors in need: documents

Liberals introduced a poverty line that was below the prior low-income cutoff

BCHL: Alberni Valley Bulldogs have been sold

Victoria company has purchased BCHL team, but will keep it in Port Alberni

“Does Kirby care?” B.C. First Nation’s group using geo-targeted ads in Houston, Texas for justice

The Heiltsuk Tribal Council has called out Kirby Corporation for the Nathan E. Stewart oil spill

Trudeau announces $79M investment for 118 more public transit buses across B.C.

Contributions from municipal to federal level to fund more buses in a bid to cut commutes

B.C. woman wins record $2.1 million on casino slot machine

‘That night was so surreal … I wasn’t able to sleep or eat for the first two days,’ she said

After B.C. dad’s death, Technical Safety BC wants changes to trampoline park rules

Jay Greenwood, 46, did ‘a series of acrobatic manoeuvres prior to a fall that caused serious injury and cardiac arrest’

$900M settlement reached in class action on sexual misconduct in Canadian military

After facing criticism, the government moved to begin settlement proceedings in early 2018

Tax take stays ahead of increased B.C. government spending

Tax revenue $2.1 billion higher than budget in 2018-19

Two toddler siblings found drowned on First Nation in Alberta

The siblings were found drowned on their family’s property, according to RCMP

Most Read