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.

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 had a pair nesting for the first time this year at our farmstead in South Dakota. Boxes put out for Bluebirds which didn't come, but these were a very pleasant consolation.
    by fluffypeanutcat, Tue, 25 Sep 2018
  • This is a good point. While cleaning mine, I kinda got the impression the cheep cheeps were waiting on me since they started chirping as soon as I brought it outside again. I swear they are so smart. Within five minutes of filling the feeder up, they are there to feast.cheers Cheep cheeps!
    by Kimber timbers, Fri, 20 Jul 2018
  • Hahaha, I love the ending remark "that area will have already been well -fertilized!"I've noticed that there are more cheep cheeps right after I clean the bird feeder compared to how many there are right before it was cheep cheeps do like and appreciate a well maintained feeder and they are worth the effort. : )
    by Kimber timbers, Fri, 20 Jul 2018
  • The storm saying seems true so far. We had as party at our bird feeder right before our last storm... 6 at once but different cheeps cheeps would come and go so there were more than 6 for sure..and squirrels eating with the birds
    by Kimber timbers, Fri, 13 Jul 2018
  • I know and do clean my feeders both for seed and for hummingbird liquid. I have a vase full of different size brushes that are only for this purpose. I have friends however who NEVER clean their feeders or bird baths, and it’s gross! I am ringing this article and will have to give out to the few offenders I know. I can’t imagine looking at such mess and not cleaning it, but not everyone thinks resale. Part of responsible bird watching/loving is to make the time and take the effort to do this.
    by Carol, Tue, 10 Jul 2018