Saturday, February 10, 2024

 Winter Bird Feeding 101: Follow these tips to keep birds safe    

To survive Michigan’s frigid winter temperatures, some birds store food from feeders to eat later in winter, while others expand their food sources and change their diets. Despite these incredible adaptations, winter can still be a stressful time for birds. We can help support winter birds by feeding them when other food sources may be scarce. Here are a couple of tips on how to feed them safely and responsibly in your space:     

  • Keep your bird feeders and birdbaths fresh and clean throughout winter. Freshen the water every other day, if possible. Clean your feeders once every one to two weeks in a 9:1 solution that is nine parts water and one part bleach, scrubbing away any debris. Dry the feeder before refilling. Clean bird baths with a scrub brush in a 9:1 solution of water and vinegar. 
  •  Don’t place seed directly on the ground or use platform feeders, which tend to attract larger numbers of birds, deer and other unwanted guests. Mess-free birdseed options can help keep the ground clean.

These tips are important year-round, but especially now as the highly pathogenic avian influenza virus is still circulating among wild birds in Michigan. While most HPAI cases have been found in waterfowl and scavenging birds (e.g., eagles, hawks and owls), the DNR is continuing surveillance efforts and will test wild birds from die-offs that include six or more birds. You can help by reporting sick or dead birds through the DNR’s Eyes in the Field app.

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