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Daily Newscasts

Tossing Wild Birds a Winter Life Line

December 15, 2010

FARGO, N. D. - An estimated 50 million people put out bird feeders this time of year, to feed and attract birds to their backyards. A bird's diet must fuel a metabolism that can require up to a whopping 10,000 calories a day. So, the kind of food you put out has to not only draw birds, but be nutritious as well.

David Mizjewski, a naturalist for the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), recommends a combination of seed and suet, although he says the best way to help wild birds survive the winter lies in what you've planted around your property.

"What you want to think about doing, first and foremost, is adding plants to your landscape that have berries, seeds, nuts and that kind of thing. Those are the foods that the birds are going to be feeding on in the winter."

There are some myths to bird feeding, says Mizjewski – like the one that says, once you start feeding, you can't stop.

"It is something of a myth that birds will become dependent upon your feeder and that, if you stop feeding once you start, the birds are going to suffer and maybe even die. That's because the research shows that birds really only use feeders as a supplement to the natural foods they find in the landscape."

So, go ahead and keep the bird feeders full this winter. NWF also has a Certified Wildlife Habitat program that educates people about how to attract birds and other wildlife in their yards. Applications for the program are online at

Dick Layman, Public News Service - ND