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Rough winters equal empty stomachs for wildlife
Quite a few of us enjoy the simple pleasure in life of watching our feathered friends swoop in and enjoy a meal we have offered them from colourful bird feeders in our yards.
I, for one, enjoy the challenge of trying to attract different species into my yard for a quick treat or a refreshing bath in the warm summer days. But once the snow falls and the temperatures drastically plunge, some feeders remain empty or unattainable.
This past year was a perfect example of that for us. Our feeder is located at the back of the yard, and with the back-to-back heavy snowfalls we had a difficult time keeping up the shovelling path to the feeder. But our birds, squirrels and bunnies still came around hoping for a morsel to munch on and fuel their bodies.
I scooped up an old board from our garage and placed it on a snow bank as a feeding platform and continued to offer birdseed and peanuts. I was pleasantly surprised to see how the blue jays shared their snacks with the squirrels but became quite hostile with the ravens when they showed up. Our bunnies never had an issue because they like to sneak out in the middle of the night to enjoy a meal by moonlight.
One of the reasons I chose to write this article was to inform some readers of how to feed the wildlife during such rough times.
My sister-in-law lives near a forest in Ontario and felt so sorry for the deer that she began to collect bread and rolls and feed them. As much as that sounds thoughtful and her heart was definitely in the right place, deer cannot absorb carbohydrates in the same way as humans (their pancreas cannot filter the carbs) and some deer have been found dead of starvation with bellies full of bread.
When feeding peanuts to our furry and feathered friends, make sure they are not raw but roasted and unsalted.
On a personal note, I have noticed how the blue jays swoop in and out with a peanut tucked snuggly in their beaks, whereas the squirrels are very messy, often hopping onto our warm hot tub to enjoy their treat, while cracking the peanut shells and leaving the crushed debris behind.
Wild rabbits enjoy birdseed as well as apples but will still search out tree bark and shrubs. The Canadian Wildlife Federation also suggests saving tree branch trimmings from fall pruning to provide winter food source for rabbits.
I was surprised to learn that if we have a dry spring, summer or fall, setting out shallow water dishes for rabbits and squirrels (bird baths for the airborne) is extremely important to them.
I hope these tips are helpful for you and our wildlife friends and I encourage everyone to take a moment and enjoy them for the rest of this spring, summer and into next winter.
It’s a wonderful way to reduce stress and put a smile on your face and in your heart (as well as theirs I’m sure).
Virginia Sperl is a community correspondent for Silver Heights.
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