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’ve been enjoying goldfinches eating coneflower/ echinacea seeds in my new pollinator garden! I will leave the plants out all winter for them if the seeds keep that long? Or should I deadhead and put them in a dry area? Im in CT and thought they migrated, but didn’t know they put in winter coats! What do they eat in winter without bird feeders?
    by Anne Sheffield, Sat, 04 Sep 2021
  • Hi Gary, I will pass your question along to Birdsquatch next time I see him. He knows infinitely more about nocturnal wildlife than I do. Where do you live? That's pretty important in figuring out the answer. But the thief could be raccoons, deer, or flying squirrels. Do you live in the woods? Are there trees near your feeder, or must the culprit climb a shepherd's hook or pole? Dawn Hewitt, Watching Backyard Birds
    by Dawn Hewitt, Mon, 30 Aug 2021
  • This breaks my heart. God strengthen your spirit and comfort your heart.I am fortunate to be taking a vacation next month, hopefully before sky high inflation hits and I can no longer afford it.
    by Ironweeds, Fri, 27 Aug 2021
  • What is emptying my jelly feeder overnight.
    by Gary Vandervest, Wed, 25 Aug 2021
  • Thank you, Dawn. I'm close enough to Ohio (Ann Arbor, Michigan) that I went ahead and took my tubes down and scoured clean all my bird baths. I won't put up my tubes this winter, just my trays and safflower only just to keep the bullies away for a while.
    by Pat Moore, Mon, 09 Aug 2021