Backyard Birds

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Published on: Oct. 23, 2013

Missouri is a great state for birds. Of the approximately 900 species in North America, more than 400 have been recorded in Missouri, and more than 150 species regularly nest in our state. Maintaining a birdfeeder in your yard is an entertaining and relatively easy way to get to know some of them.

Birds certainly benefit from easy access to food in feeders, but keep in mind that they would do just fine without it. The real beneficiaries of backyard bird feeding are people; birds at feeders are beautiful to watch, often amusing, and companionable. To keep birds returning to your feeders in any season, you need to provide them with three essential elements:

  • A variety of good-quality seed
  • Fresh water for drinking and bathing
  • Plenty of places to take cover — preferably native trees and shrubs. Native plants also provide potential nesting sites and sources of natural food.

Two million Missourians enjoy observing, feeding, and photographing wildlife near their homes. Backyard birding is a fun and easy way to enjoy the outdoors all year.

What is the Best Season to Feed Birds?

While winter is the most popular time to stock feeders, many people enjoy feeding birds year-round. That’s because different species visit feeders during different seasons. For example, some birds are only summer residents in Missouri, others are here only in the winter months. Behavior also changes with the seasons. In the spring and summer, many young birds follow their parents to the feeder. It is fascinating to watch the adults show their young how to crack open seeds.

People often say that once you start feeding birds, it’s better for them if you remain diligent and continue to feed them routinely. In fact, no research indicates that during normal weather, birds will starve if feeding is stopped for a time. Remember, birds are highly mobile and resourceful. They often visit many feeding stations in a neighborhood, and if yours runs out, they will seek food elsewhere.

What Should My Feeding Station Look Like?

Your bird feeding station may be as simple or as elaborate as you like. You may choose to simply scatter seeds on the ground, build your own platform, or hang several store-bought feeders of various shapes and sizes throughout your yard. Remember that there are differences in feeding habits among birds. Songbirds, such as the dark-eyed junco or white-crowned

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