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Sliding Temperatures Hit Wild Birds Hard

By: Michael Zuiker

March 20, 2018

ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA — This week’s snow has the potential to wreak havoc on the lives of many wild birds struggling to find enough food to survive the long, cold nights.

Many people mistakenly believe that once the brunt of winter is over, birds can easily fend for themselves. However, even under normal weather conditions, spring is a difficult and stressful time for birds.

Most of last year’s natural food sources have been depleted, and the majority of this year’s seeds and berries won’t be available until much later in the year. Meanwhile, birds are expending a great deal of energy migrating, courting and building nests.

“Providing food throughout the spring is as important as winter feeding,” explained Michael Zuiker, owner of the Arlington, VA Wild Birds Unlimited. “Feeding the birds is even more critical as we experience these very cold conditions and this very unusual snowstorm, during which a supply of food can mean the difference between life and death for a bird. Ideally, birds should have food available late afternoon in order to survive the cold nights, and early morning to replenish their energy supply.”

Food loaded with fat and calories helps birds struggling to survive cold times such as these. The best seeds for providing high energy levels are black oil sunflower, striped sunflower and safflower.

Suet and peanuts are also high-energy foods that are invaluable when birds need many more calories to keep warm.

In addition to high-calorie foods, birds also need an open source of water for drinking and a place to bathe when temperatures drop. Clean feathers help birds stay warm, and a bird bath with open water is often the only way for some birds to drink and stay clean when it’s cold.

Wild Birds Unlimited, located in Arlington, VA, is part of the original and largest franchise system of backyard bird feeding and nature specialty stores with more than 275 locations throughout the United States and Canada. Wild Birds Unlimited specializes in bringing people and nature together with bird feeding and nature products, expert advice and educational events.

Visit our Web site and shop online at To learn how you can open your own Wild Birds Unlimited, visit Stop in and save $10 off any $50 purchase now until March 31, 2018.


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