Tips for seeing more of Wisconsin’s feathered friends
Wisconsin ranks second in the nation in percentage of residents who birdwatch. Winter is a great time to feed birds, giving watchers opportunity to bring some species closer to home.
Wondering how to maximize viewing at your feeder? The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has these tips:
- The single best seed to provide is black oil sunflower, which has high fat content and attracts the most species.
- Also offer nyjer (thistle) for finches, white millet for sparrows, doves, and other ground-feeding species both suet and peanut chunks for woodpeckers, chickadees and nuthatches.
- Avoid generic seed mixes as these tend to have more waste and attract less desired bird and mammal species.
- Deter squirrels with cone- or dome-shaped baffles above hanging feeders or below pole-mounted feeders.
- Place feeders closer than three feet or farther than 30 feet from your home to avoid the deadliest window collision zone.
- Minimize disease by cleaning your feeders at least once every two weeks using soapy water and a 10% bleach solution.
- Provide cover such as brush piles or dense shrubs for roosting and escape from predators.
- Offer water to attract a wider variety of species, using a heating element when temperatures dip below freezing.
- “Birdscape” your property with native plants such as fruit-bearing shrubs and evergreen trees. Check out these birdscaping resources on the Wisconsin Stopover Initiative website.
- Contribute to bird science and management by reporting birds you see at your feeder. The Great Backyard Bird Count every February is an easy, fun way to get started: for at least 15 minutes on one or more days you simply tally the numbers and kinds of birds you see. Project Feederwatch spans the entire winter.