REGION – Northern cardinals, red-breasted nuthatches, black-capped chickadees, downy woodpeckers, dark-eyed juncos and white-throated sparrows are just some of the birds you might see at your feeders this winter.
Though birds are attracted to backyard bird feeders, they don’t need humans to help them survive the winter. The natural world provides plenty of winter food sources for Michigan’s winter birds. Some do choose to feed the birds, which can be a fulfilling experience.
Now that Michigan’s winter weather has set in, you may decide that it’s time to place your bird feeders outdoors and watch the wintering songbirds they attract.
Using a tube, hopper or suet bird feeder rather than using platform feeders or spreading seed directly on the ground will deter uninvited guests from visiting your feeder.
The feeder also should be placed high enough to be inaccessible to deer and elk, as feeding these animals is illegal in the Lower Peninsula and in the chronic wasting disease surveillance area in the Upper Peninsula. A mess-free bird seed can help keep the ground underneath feeders clean, and the addition of a fence around the feeder can keep seed out of reach of deer and elk.
If you live in black bear country, wintertime bird feeders should no longer attract bears to your yard, as most bears should be settled in for their winter hibernation. If you live in an area that is known to have bears, mark your calendars now to take your feeders inside when March arrives and bears reawaken.
To learn more about which feeders and foods attract which bird species, check out Project Feeder Watch’s latest online resource on common feeder birds. Don’t forget to keep your feeders clean to prevent the spread of bird diseases.
MI Birds is a public outreach and engagement program created by Audubon Great Lakes and Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Birders and hunters share similar conservation values, but rarely cross paths. MI Birds aims to bridge the divide, and deepen all Michiganders engagement in the understanding, care and stewardship of public lands that are important for birds and local communities.