Tips for Taking Care of Your Birds

Community Rises Up to Challenge

April snow is putting the birds at risk of starvation, and the community is rising up to give them a helping hand.

Mealworm was pretty much sold out in Marshfield, according to Central Wisconsin Country Store, which saw big crowds Wednesday. By 5 p.m Wednesday, the store was two-thirds of the way through donated suet from Prince Corporation and completely sold out of 100 bags of a fruit-and-nut bird seed it had bought from the company that morning and sold at a reduced price.

“It was a steady day, and I don’t think it’s done,” said Jim Bauer, location manager. The store plans to have a similar product available by noon Thursday.

There are still other seed options, and customers would just have to add the fruit themselves. Sunflower hearts and peanuts are also available. “If you can’t feed them mealworms, and you can’t feed them what they’re used to, then the suet and something with nuts and berries in it is the next thing,” Bauer said. “When you run out of fruit and nut, then you go to a sunflower heart and nut mixture. Then you can add your own fruit.”

The fruit can be fresh or dried and include varieties like blueberries, raspberries, and cherries, to name a few.

Pine Siskin, Golfinch, and Junco migration is underway, which means a great crowd of birds on the feeder and more looking for shelter and food. Bauer recommends putting out freshwater a couple times a day, or using a heated dog bowl. If the bowl is too deep, put a rock in it. Scatter seed for the birds on the ground or in the feeder.

Robins will eat seed if they are starving, and need high calorie and high sugar intake. To help birds survive the cold, these factors are key. “The seed that you’re looking for has to be high in fat and calories, so it will need to contain sunflower seeds,” said Bauer. “When you’re feeding a bird who’s not used to eating sunflower seeds, get the shelled ones.”

Nuts chopped up fine are another bird food option, with reports that if the mixture is put in the right spot, the birds come.

Digging through the snow to the grass is another good idea, and Bauer recommends doing so near the house for added protection and warmth. Some residents, he said, have discovered robins and killdeer in their garages.

“Dig along the edges of gravel driveways, because birds also need grit to go along with this course feed,” he said. “Grit is the bird’s teeth, and that’s what grinds the food up. When the bird goes from eating an already processed meat source and to something that is harder, it doesn’t get the nutrition because it’s not ground up enough.”

Read more about how local businesses are helping the birds here and here.