Chubby Mealworms is jumping into spring. Warming days and peeping blooms of tulips and daffodils proclaim that winter is over.
n’t put away those bird feeders yet. Feeding the birds will need to continue through this season! Spring is migration time for dozens of species of songbirds.Food supplies are scarce after winter and they will not peak until the summer for many fruit and seed eating birds.
The bird researchers at Cornell Lab of Ornithology inform us that “during migration in the spring, a bird feeder might be a very welcome source of food for a bird that has already come a long way from its wintering grounds and still has a long way to go before reaching its breeding grounds.”These birds rely on set feeding or refueling stops as they make their way south in the fall and north in the spring. These habitats are critical layovers; where the birds set down to replenish their energy before continuing on to summer nesting grounds. Your bird feeders are cafes that birds will visit during spring frosts, snows or general wild forage shortages.
Observation is the number one tool of bird watchers and birding ecologists – and that’s you! Keep an eye out for the arrival of different bird species as the seasons begin to shift. Are the finches and blackbirds singing earlier in the morning? When did their spring songs begin? Listen to new tunes wafting in the air – as these are your arriving nesters. In fact, the birds you see in your yard every year really are familiar faces returning to their original territories.
Tagging and tracking information reveals that “migratory songbirds return to the same territory or local area each spring after traveling thousands of miles to and from their wintering grounds…Studies of banded birds show that 20-60 percent of migratory songbirds typically return to the same local area.” ( Cornell Lab of Ornithology)
As soon as the days begin to lengthen, birds are claiming territories, or reconnecting with mates. Many species, such as the house finches, are already building their nests. Now is a good time to set out straw and nesting materials for the birds to use.Spring may be synonymous with cleaning – but it means house building for the birds! Of course – keep feeders and birdbaths extra clean. The warmer weather, tempered with spring rains and coupled with the increase in new arrivals, greatly increases the risk of disease.
Mold and pathogens are at a higher level due to ambient moisture, warmth and increased migratory bird traffic (which means disease can be “flown” into your feeding stations). Be sure to use a livestock approved (like Oxine) cleaner to disinfect feeders and watering areas.Scrub birdbaths daily.
What do I put in my feeder?
The answer is pretty simple - keep feeding what you provided throughout the fall and winter… but add some extra menu items. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) reminds us that it “is now known that if the weather turns cold or wet during spring or summer, severe shortage of insect food can occur, and if the weather is exceptionally dry, earthworms will be unavailable to the ground feeders because of the hard soil.”
Let’s welcome in the spring and our returning feathered guests!