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The Backyard Birder, Issue #007 February, Look for the early signs of spring and new wild birds.
February 01, 2008

Hi Everyone,

I am glad to say that February is finally here. Although we are still deep into winter here in New Hampshire, there are many signs of spring. It is important to keep your feeders full, as birds really need the extra fuel to stay warm.

You may notice that as storms approach, the activity increases at your feeding station. It is a good idea to fill your feeders if a storm is coming. That way the birds will have the food they need during the storm and you won’t have to go out in the bad weather to fill them. Once the storm passes, be sure to brush the snow off the feeders to make it easier for the birds to eat.

Depending on where you live, you may start to see new birds at your feeders. We have a regular flow of chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, juncos, goldfinches, cardinals, woodpeckers and blue jays all winter long. In February we start to see redpolls, grosbeaks, crossbills and even robins at our feeding station. Using a variety of foods is sure to attract a wider variety of wild birds.

Nyjer seed will provide the energy boost needed by goldfinches. Suet bird food should be part of the menu especially in the winter. Suet will attract woodpeckers, nuthatches, and chickadees. You can buy packaged suet cakes almost anywhere or you can just hang raw suet (from the butcher) in an onion bag. But if you want to have some fun … and attract more birds, try making your own suet bird food treats.

We are fortunate to live in an area populated by owls. On many nights in February we are able to hear the call of the great horned owl. It actually starts nesting in February. If the moon is bright enough, you may even catch a glimpse of one.

If you look closely you can see some early signs of spring around you. The branches of many dog wood trees start to show life by changing in color to red or yellow. Buds on trees begin to swell as the sap runs into their branches. Another sign of spring are the tiny plants growing in your basement. What, you don’t have any tiny plants growing in your basement?

February is the perfect time to start your spring plantings. Starting plants by seed will save you a ton of money. Take a look at your yard and see if there is anywhere you can add some plants to attract birds. Planting a bird garden is a great way to invite more birds into your yard.

Since spring will be here soon, you should consider hanging a few birdhouses. If you have never had birdhouses in your yard before, you will need to do some research on the type of cavity nesters in your area. Cavity nesters are birds that will nest in birdhouses (artificial tree cavities) as opposed to building nests on tree branches. If you have birdhouses in your yard now, you should clean and repair them if needed.

The Great Backyard Bird Count will be taking place February 15 – 18, 2008. Participating in a bird count is a lot of fun and a great way to meet birding enthusiasts in your area. It is something the whole family can do together.

February Checklist:

  • Keep you feeders full, especially before storms.
  • Clean the snow off your feeders after storms.
  • Offer a variety of bird foods to attract more birds.
  • Try making suet bird food treats your self.
  • Take an owl walk at night to look for nesting great horned owls.
  • Evaluate your garden and consider plantings for a more bird-friendly yard.
  • Start new plants from seed indoors.
  • Hang new birdhouses and clean old ones.
  • Sign up for The Great Backyard Bird Count.

February Recipe:

Chickadee Fuel

You will need:

  • 2 cups of rendered suet
  • 1 cup of sunflower meats
  • 2 cup of mixed nuts, chopped
  • 1 cup of peanuts, chopped

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl while suet is still warm. Spread mixture onto a large cookie sheet and freeze. Once frozen, break into small pieces and serve in a platform feeder.

News from my feeding station in January:

It has been a long cold winter here in New Hampshire. My bird feeding station has been very busy. There has been a steady flow of chickadees, nuthatches, titmice, downy woodpeckers, hairy woodpeckers and juncos.

I have only seen cardinals two or three times which is a little disappointing. I was very surprised to see a group of robins. It was surprising since the ground here is frozen and snow covered. I am keeping food in my ground feeder just in case they return.

Happy Birding,

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