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The Backyard Birder, Issue #006 January, Winter has been harsh don't forget our feathered friends.
January 04, 2008

Happy New Year,

We are now deep into winter and your backyard bird feeding station should be in full swing. As the snow gets deeper, it is harder for seed eating birds to find the food they need to survive. If you keep your feeders full, they will remain full of activity throughout the winter.

Wild birds require two things to survive the winter, foods that are high in calories to stay warm and water. Birds need to maintain a body temperature of 105 degrees Fahrenheit, even on the coldest days. Bird foods that are high in calories provide birds with the energy they need to stay warm. Suet bird food and nyjer seed are two types of food that are high in calories and should be included in the foods offered to your backyard birds.

If you keep your birdbath or pond unfrozen by using a bird bath heater, you will discover that open water on a subfreezing day is a surefire way to attract wild birds.

Some years in New Hampshire, during January, we get to see species of birds more common in Canada. Evening Grosbeaks, Redpolls, Pine Siskins and Crossbills are a few of the species that stop by for a meal. They love black-oil sunflower seeds and keeping your feeders full may entice them.

It may not seem like it but January is is a great time to start thinking about spring. Now is the time to get out your seed catalog and start planning your bird-friendly garden. What plans do you have for spring? Are you thinking about planting a new hummingbird garden? Maybe you're thinking about creating a bird habitat using fruit baring shrubs and trees? You can save a lot of money by starting flowering plants from seed or buying shrubs in bare root form. Whatever your plans are now is the time to start planning.

When you take down your Christmas tree place it in your yard near your feeding station. Your birds will appreciate the shelter and you can hang homemade treats to keep them fed.

Did you miss the 2007 Christmas Bird Count? Don't miss the 2008 Great Backyard Bird Count; it is coming in February.

January Checklist:

  • Keep your feeders full.
  • Clean the snow off your feeders after every storm.
  • Keep high calorie foods in your feeders like suet and nyjer seed.
  • Use multiple feeders in several locations to attract a greater variety birds.
  • Heat the water in your bird bath to keep it unfrozen and available for the birds.
  • Make plans for your spring plantings. Consider starting seeds indoors to save money.

January Recipe:

Midwinter Suet Treat

Birds require foods high in calories to stay warm in the winter. This suet bird food recipe will give them what they need.


  • 3 Cups of rendered beef suet
  • 1 Cup of crunchy peanut butter
  • Half cup of raisins (can use any dried fruit)
  • Quarter cup of brown sugar
  • Quarter cup of crushed graham crackers
  • Half cup of mixed nuts broken into small pieces
  • Quarter cup of cornmeal


As your rendered suet begins to solidify, stir in the crunchy peanut butter. Then add the dried fruit, brown sugar, crushed graham crackers and nuts. Add the cornmeal as needed. The mix should have the consistency of cooked oatmeal.

Pour the suet bird food into a pan. If you are using standard suet cages, the desired thickness is about 1 1/2". Once your mix hardens, cut it into 3" squares. Store unused squares in your freezer until needed.

News from my feeding station in December:

We have had the snowiest December on record in New Hampshire. Between the snow and the holidays, it has been a real challenge keeping my feeders full. But I understand that the birds that visit my feeders rely on me to provide the food that they need to survive. I have had a steady flow of normal winter visitors, chickadees, juncos, titmice, goldfinches, hairy and downy woodpeckers, blue jays and cardinals. Ground feeders like juncos and cardinals have a hard time finding food when the snow is deep. I have been using a ground level platform feeder to make it easier for them to feed.

I hope that everyone had a wonderful 2007. It is a good time to look back and see all the birds you were able to add to your life list this year. If you don't have a life list now is the best time to start one. It will make it easy for you to keep track of all of your new sightings.

Happy New Year and Happy Birding,


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