Not everybody goes into winter hibernation. Find out how you can help migrating birds right in your own backyard.
As the hustle and bustle of the holidays slowly comes to an end, many of us may be anxiously awaiting the return of the colors and sounds of spring in the desert. Turns out, nature is profoundly more active than we initially thought. Throughout the month of January and continuing through the month of April, hundreds of species of birds migrate across New Mexico. Fortunately, the bird experts at Wild Birds Unlimited of Las Cruces, are ready to provide all the resources necessary to foster a warm, nutrient-filled environment for traveling birds passing through your backyard this winter.
Though over 500 of the 10,000 bird species of the world have been spotted in New Mexico, several can only be found here during specific times of the year. While the cold is still harsh (January-February), the Scrub Jay can be found in open woodlands throughout the state. Feeding mainly off insects, the Jay tends to have better luck finding food in this habitat. And as the climate begins to heat up (March-April), various species of Hummingbird can be found delivering the promise of spring to Las Cruces residents. Other birds found in the Mesilla Valley year round include the American Robin, the Lesser Goldfinch, Woodpeckers, and the Pyrrhuloxia, otherwise known as the Desert Cardinal.
According to Kristi Lane, owner of Wild Birds Unlimited of Las Cruces, homeowners can play a vital role in cold conditions by providing a reliable food supply for the birds during their long journeys. Just one meal for these little guys could mean the difference between life and death, as they expend an extreme amount of energy just trying to keep warm, sometimes losing up to 10 percent of their body weight overnight.
It is important that these birds feed on plenty of high-calorie foods such as black oil sunflower seeds, peanuts, and suet, in order to survive the winter. In addition to eating well, maintaining cleanliness and bathing frequently is also imperative to a bird’s survival during the winter. One way they keep warm is by puffing up their feathers, making them seem fluffier than normal. In order to do this, their feathers must be light, and therefore clean. Dirty feathers weighed down by oils and dirt prevent the bird from puffing and fluffing. This is why keeping a source of open water in your yard throughout the winter could also help ensure the survival of these birds.
Ready to build your backyard bird haven? Kristi highlighted a few products she considers essential to caring for both migrating birds and birds found here year round.
Jim’s Birdacious Bark Butter
The founder of Wild Birds Unlimited, Jim Carpenter, engineered this formula power-packed with protein to provide birds with the extra calories needed to store body fat and stay insulated through the winter. Attracting more than 140 different bird species nationwide, Bark Butter is available in spread, bit, brick, and plug form.
This pure fat substance provides large amounts of energy when insects are difficult to come by. It is available in no-melt formulas and even flavors like Naturally Nuts, Nuts & Berries, Peanut Butter’n Jelly, and Bird Bug Bites. Don’t forget to pick up a suet feeder to supplement your purchase.
Loaded with the proteins necessary to a bird’s survival during the winter, mealworms are an essential nutrient for the migrating community. As most birds are already accustomed to eating insects as a staple in their diet, this dish is a guaranteed favorite. Serve from a mealworm feeder for best results.