As snow and ice continues to accumulate across the state, Connecticut Audubon Society is appealing to state residents to keep their backyard feeders filled with seeds and their birdbaths open and filled with water.
Connecticut has been hit by eight snowstorms this winter, including four major storms, and some areas of the state had 20 to 30 inches of snow pack, the society said in a news release. Snow has been covering the ground almost continuously since before Christmas.
In addition this already significant snow coverage has been exacerbated by the snow and ice storm of February, which left a crust that made it very difficult for the remaining song birds to forage at all.
Birds that have historically spent the winter in Connecticut are well adapted to the cold and snow, but there are a number of species that have spread north in the past decade, and they and others need support to supplement their winter diet, especially when there has been a deep and prolonged cover of snow and ice, the society said.
“For nearly six weeks our state has been locked in snow, hard and deep,” Connecticut Audubon President Alexander Brash said. “Our over-wintering song birds, such as cardinals, blue jays, wrens, and sparrows can use our help getting through a tough time, so please keep your feeders stocked. Refill them regularly, also if possible hang suet, or even smear peanut butter on a tree trunk.”
A thick pack of snow and ice can make it difficult for even the hardiest winter birds to find enough protein and fat to sustain them through a rough winter.
“One of the great pleasures of winter is to have chickadees, nuthatches, finches, woodpeckers and other birds visiting your feeder,” Milan Bull, senior director of science and conservation for the society, said. “A steady supply of seeds in a feeder helps them especially when it’s snowy and icy, and it ensures that they keep coming back for you to enjoy.”
Sunflower seeds are a staple for our winter birds. Smaller seeds such as niger are good for finches, and suet is important for woodpeckers. However bread, crackers or other baked products provide no nutrition for backyard birds and should not be put out for them, according to the news release.
Birds also need fresh water, which may be difficult for them to find when brooks and ponds are frozen.
This weekend is the annual Great Backyard Bird Count, organized by the Cornell Ornithology Laboratory and the National Audubon Society, the society noted.
“Keep your feeders filled – we urge you,” Brash said. “You’ll have the pleasure of watching a steady stream of birds visit and of knowing you’re helping them to reach spring.”