Mar 7, 2018 | Featured in: Watching Backyard Birds, April 2018

Spring Can Really Hang Birds Up the Most

We typically think of the best bird feeding seasons as fall and winter, but it is actually early spring when birds could use the bit of help that our feeders may give them.
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We typically think of the best bird feeding seasons as fall and winter, but it is actually early spring when birds could use the bit of help that our feeders may give them. Two full seasons after the blooming and growing months of summer have ended, natural food supplies will be gone or nearly so. Berries, nuts, seeds, insects, flower nectar, buds, and other natural foods that birds eat will not yet be available or even growing in the cold-winter parts of North America. This makes spring feeding a wonderful opportunity for fans of backyard birds.

There are also some things to anticipate at the feeders in spring. The return of hummingbirds is always a highlight at my house. The adult males usually arrive around April 15 here in southeastern Ohio. But we also enjoy spring feeder visits from indigo buntings and rose-breasted grosbeaks, which opt to eat sunflower hearts and seeds at the feeder in the weeks before insects and new plant buds are available.

One final note about the joys of spring feeding: Warmer weather makes things easier for microbes and disease to spread. It's a good idea to move your feeding station to a new spot—away from the seed hulls and droppings that accumulated during winter. And give your feeders a good thorough cleaning before restocking them for the spring feeding season.

Happy backyard birding!



About Bill Thompson, III

Bill Thompson III is the editor of Bird Watcher's Digest by day. He's also a keen birder, the author of many books, a dad, a field trip leader, an ecotourism consultant, a guitar player, and blogger.

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  • I have experienced this when a house wren punctured 5 blue bird eggs last spring in our blue bird box. Then I hung out a wren box by the trees and he got busy filling it and left the bluebirds alone and they successfully raised another brood!
    by Susan, Sun, 07 Apr 2019
  • I also have several turkeys that live in the woods behind me. They visit early morning and near sundown. Living in the country with a mountain and brook behind my house, I have animals visiting 24hrs a day. My turkeys are awesome. They know me and wait for their breakfast. They hop up on my patio wall to look in my windows. I also noticed the 2 birds that are the lookouts. They come over to eat as the others march across my lawn to my neighbor who also feeds the animals. We also have coyotes that, I am sure, have eaten turkey dinner. The squirrels run around and chase them to protect their seeds and cracked corn. I feed my 3 raccoons peanut butter jelly sandwiches, which they share with a possum and 3 skunks, at the same time, by the way. No food goes into my garbage. Meat scraps go to crows and hawks. Everything else, even soup, gets eaten before the sun is completely set. That keeps bears away if no dishes are there to entice. I break up bread in tiny pieces now and turkeys 'gobble' it up. So happy to find another person that enjoys wildlife. Nothing is more satisfying than walking out side and spotting Daisy the skunk, calling her name and watching her tripping all over herself, running to meet you. Thank you for your valuable information.
    by Stella Kachur, Wed, 27 Mar 2019
  • This is exactly my experience. The local feed store had some on sale so I thought I'd try some. Actually I was shocked at how it is avoided, and I've been feeding birds for more than 40 years. I suppose I've never had it out as the ONLY food source, but when I put it out along with the blackoil, peanuts, cracked corn and suet cakes, absolutely nothing would touch it. Even when I dumped some on the ground the rabbits wouldn't eat it, nor would the squirrels. Eventually some turkeys and deer ate some--when they could find nothing else underneath the other feeders. But even they left plenty on the ground which they NEVER do with cracked corn, sunflower, etc.Every person should try some if they're inclined and decide for themselves since every situation may be a bit different, but for me/my species, safflower is a big no.
    by Colin Croft, Sun, 03 Mar 2019
  • I have questions about the Zick Dough? It says not to use in cold weather. It is still in the 40s here. Too soon? How long should I expect a supply to last? And, use a tray feeder? Thanks.
    by martindf, Sun, 25 Nov 2018
  • Glad I found this. I'm a snowbird and was worried about all the birds that come to feed at my birdfeeder. I have Cardinals, sparrows, doves, Blue Jays, chickadees. I hope they'll find food elsewhere while I'm gone.
    by Donna, Sat, 03 Nov 2018