Can you offer some pointers on setting up a winter bird feeder?
—Jane Smyth, Whitefish, Montana
This time of year is great for playing host to our feathered friends. “They most need additional calories now, and it’s easier than in warmer months, when the heat can cause food to go rancid,” says John Rowden, Ph.D., director of community conservation at the National Audubon Society. Fill your feeder with a highcalorie combination of fats and protein, which will provide birds with enough energy to sustain them as temperatures drop. Sunflower seeds, millet, and nyjer (the small black seeds of the African yellow daisy) fit the bill, as does suet, a mixture of lard or vegetable-based fat, like nut butter or shortening, and birdseed. For a vegetarian recipe, which birds can digest more easily than its meat-based counterpart, visit audubon
.org/news/make-your-own-suet. To maintain your avian all-you-can-eat buffet, wash your feeder monthly (every two weeks, in warmer months) with a mixture of 10 parts water to 1 part bleach, rinsing and air-drying thoroughly, and replace the contents when they’re dampened by snow or rain.