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Bird Feeding Tips

Tips on attracting and feeding backyard birds.

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Stars of Your Feeder Theater – Part 2 of 2

Posted by on in Attracting and feeding wild birds
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Chickadees also may group together in mixed-species flocks in the winter. Downy Woodpeckers, Tufted Titmice, Brown Creepers, nuthatches, kinglets, some warblers, juncos, sparrow and Bushtits may join chickadee foraging flocks and respond to chickadee alarm calls. Mixed flocking seems to be based on food availability. The extra eyes in a mixed flock may increase the birds’ foraging efficiency, and the extra ears may help to pinpoint potential predators. If an enemy is spotted, chickadees and their allies have been known to mob the predator, even in temperatures as low as minus 25 degrees Fahrenheit.


About half the winter diet of chickadees is seed, including the seeds of trees as well as seed and suet from your feeders. They relish black-oil sunflower seeds and also love peanut halves.

b2ap3_thumbnail_carolina-chickadee-at-feeder.jpgCarolina Chickadee

After taking a seed, a chickadee will often fly to a nearby perch; hold the seed (or peanut) with its feet, and use its needle-sharp bill to hammer it open. At times, they may seem almost frantic about eating, and perhaps they are. A chickadee must eat almost continuously during the shorter daylight hours of winter in order to stoke its metabolic furnace and to keep from freezing. After all, inside that tiny body is a heart that beats 700 times a minute! On a cold day, a chickadee needs to eat its own weight in food – about half an ounce, the weight of an ordinary envelope.

Cheerfully calling their own names in voices that Burroughs described as “full of unspeakable tenderness and fidelity,” chickadees get top billing during winter. Like consummate actors, they entertain in return for little and seem to enjoy the roles that life has given them. Chickadees seem to remind us to grin and bear the hardships of our own lives as well.

I am delighted to join the Birdzilla team through this blog, sharing ideas and topics related to feeding and attracting wild birds in your backyard. Bird feeding is my life-long passion,  instilled by bird-feeding parents who raised me on an 80-acre farm in central Michigan.  After college, my wife and I served as U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer high-school teachers in Africa and then as staff members over an eight-year period.
Those wonderful times led to 30-years of bird-feeding leadership as founder of the Wild Bird Centers, franchising and supporting wild bird specialty stores across the country. I helped found the Bird Education Network and was a key financial supporter of PROJECT WILDBIRD, I currently serve as Executive Director of the National Bird-Feeding Society. Several years ago, I was asked to join “The Birder’s Team”, a working group of birding leaders selected by the National Wildlife Refuge System to recommend ways to better serve birders. millions of whom visit our extraordinary network of more than 500 Refuges. These “conservation jewels” actively protect critical habitat and conserve bird populations of all kinds. Most recently, I served as a judge to select the winning artist for the NWRS’ 2015 Duck Stamp Contest.

I now look forward to helping our readers experience the best our wonderful hobby offers. As I often say “The closer we live to each other, the closer we want to be to Nature.”

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