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, was the team captain for Watching Backyard Birds from its inception 23 years ago through his death on March 25, 2019. So much of what he wrote is timeless and remains informative, helpful, and inspiring.

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  • I live in Southeastern Massachusetts. Four "orphaned" very young poults (males) showed up in my yard about a year ago. They have been around all year. I do feed them cracked corn, and they come when I call for them. I don't want to over- domesticate them, but they do recognize me as the lady that brings food. They roost in the big oak trees at night. I have a 1 acre lot, with many acres of protected forest out back and a pond on the property.Lately, during mating season, I have had hens in the yard too. We've counted as many as 7 Toms and hens, but today, had just the one stalwart (a very robust Tom) that comes everyday. One of the Toms that has recently made an appearance is wounded, limping with an obvious predator wound. The local wildlife experts say he should make a full recovery, and that he's best left to recover with his flock.I find them to be interesting and beautiful birds.
    by Heather Cole, Mon, 06 Apr 2020
  • You have to put food in it.
    by Truckee Man, Mon, 06 Apr 2020
  • Love listeningto both songs and calls from birds in our woody neighborhood. The two types of birds I immediately recognize are the cardinals and the chickadees. Yesterday afternoon too, I heard a woodpecker. Then it’s time to check the birdfeeders and the birdbath. Then In no time at all the cardinals and chickadees arrive, as if they had been watching me. As it gets busier around the feeders, I also hear thé screeching of the blue jays. I even saw a couple of robins checking out our lawn....spring has arrived as the last pat gesofisticeerde snow and ice melt away.
    by louisabt, Sun, 08 Mar 2020
  • I am wondering about existing nests for Phoebes. I have two outdoor aisle entries to my barn and there are old Phoebe nests up. They ignore them each year and build new nests adjacent to the old, but space is running out. Should I knock down the old nests so they can rebuild?
    by [email protected], Sun, 02 Feb 2020
  • Just wondering, should we put anything in the bottom of the box...twigs, clippings, leaves....anything at all?
    by Hebb, Tue, 28 Jan 2020