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February is National Bird Feeding Month

On Feb. 23, 1994, former Illinois Congressman John Edward Porter recognized February as National Wild Bird Feeding Month when he read a resolution into the Congressional Record.

“During this month, individuals are encouraged to provide food, water and shelter to help wild birds survive. This assistance benefits the environment by supplementing wild bird’s natural diet of weed seeds and insects,” said Porter.

Porter continued to emphasize the popularity of feeding wild birds by the U.S. adult population. He described backyard bird feeding as “entertaining, educational and inexpensive” for children and adults. Watching birds is relaxing and peaceful. “…Nature serves to relieve the stress and can get one’s day going on a tranquil note.”

Feeding wild birds is a naturally fun activity for all ages. Even young children can learn to identify different species of birds with a field guide, keep track of sightings and learn about the birds’ habits. Many people keep lists started as children of all the birds they’ve ever spotted. Watching birds can be a lifelong hobby for the entire family to enjoy.

According to Porter’s remarks in the Congressional Record, “Feeding wild birds in the backyard is an easy hobby to start and need not overtax the family budget. It can be as simple as mounting a single feeder outside a widow and filling it with bird seed mix. For many people, the hobby progresses from there. They discover the relationship between the type and location of feeders, and the seeds offered in them, and the number and varieties of birds attracted. Parents can challenge an inquisitive child’s mind as they explore together these factors in trying to encourage visits by their favorite birds.”

Serious birders compile a Life List of all the bird species they’ve identified absolutely, positively throughout their lives. Many times birders keep their list with their trusted field guide.  So acquire a bird book, place a bird feeder in your backyard and take birding trips to local parks and forest reserves and begin a list.

Meanwhile, feed the birds only nutritious seeds. Wild bird feeders and seeds can attract different species. Feed along with a few tips to help keep wild birds healthy by properly feeding them all year-round:

  • Keep feeders filled with nutritious bird seed during cold and snowy months. Keep feeders clean, free of snow and ice and full of seeds. The consistent source of health and nutrition will keep the birds coming back for more.
  • Suet cakes offer high fat content and a great source of extra energy for woodpeckers and many birds, including chickadees, love it. Suet is made with rendered beef tallow and mixed with a variety of seeds, fruits and nuts.
  • Thin-shelled black oil sunflower has excellent oil and nutritional content.
  • Finches love thistle seeds.
  • Replenish water in birdbaths. Freezing temperatures can make providing water a challenge, but a small heater can help. Birds need water for drinking and bathing.
  • Thistle, cracked corn, sunflower seeds attract a variety of colorful birds.
  • In February especially, natural food supplies can be depleted, and ponds can be thick with ice, making it difficult for backyard birds thrive.
  • Did you know? A typical backyard bird weighs less than two nickels.
  • Birds can use up to 15 percent of their body weight overnight just keeping warm.
  • The Cardinal is the state bird for seven states— Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia.
  • A cardinal weighs about 2 ounces. A small apple weighs 4 ounces. So consider that a cardinal weighs about as much as half a small apple.
  • Pennsylvania’s top ten birds most commonly observed at feeders are Dark-eyed junco, Mourning dove, Tufted titmouse, Northern cardinal, Blue jay, White-breasted nuthatch, Downy woodpecker, House finch, American goldfinch, and Black-capped chickadee.
  • More than 9,000 species of birds live on earth. No one has ever spotted all of them!

Source:  Positively Naperville