Canstar Community News - ONLINE EDITION

Rough winters equal empty stomachs for wildlife

  • Print
Watching our feathered friends enjoy a meal, such as this chickadee at Fort Whyte, is a wonderful to reduce stress and put a smile on your face.

MIKE DEAL/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS PHOTO ARCHIVES Enlarge Image

Watching our feathered friends enjoy a meal, such as this chickadee at Fort Whyte, is a wonderful to reduce stress and put a smile on your face. Photo Store Photo Store

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.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

Fall Arts Guide

We preview what’s new and what’s coming up in Winnipeg’s new arts season

View our Fall Arts Guide

Readers' Choice Awards

Best Of Winnipeg Readers Survey

See the results of the 2014 Canstar Community News Best of Winnipeg Readers' Survey.

View Results

This Just In Twitter bird

Poll

Do you think Canada Post should be responsible for clearing snow away from its community mailboxes?

View Results