Homeowners urged to wait to hang feeders
HUNTINGTON- The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department and Audubon Vermont are urging Vermonters to prepare bird feeders to put up around December 1, the date recommended by the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department to avoid attracting bears.
Vermont’s bear biologist, Forrest Hammond, says the availability of fall foods is the most important factor determining when bears go into their dens. He said that pregnant sows tend to den earlier than the rest of the bear population but can re-emerge for short feeding forays if there is a period of warm weather.
If people see bear tracks or bears are raiding bird feeders in the area, take the feeders down until later. Hammond points out that bears are especially attracted to black oil sunflower seed and suet, and that they can smell both from very long distances. He adds that a bear that learns to get food from people will continue to do so, potentially leading to property damage and dangerous encounters with people which can result in the bear’s demise.
Make sure feeders are free of potentially harmful bacteria and viruses by cleaning them with a 10% bleach solution and rinsing with water. Place feeders far enough from windows to reduce the likelihood of birds colliding into them. Collisions are a major source of bird mortality each year. Feeders four to 10 feet away from windows cause the most problems as birds flush off a feeder and hit windows with a lot of speed. Keep cats inside, as domestic cats kill thousands of birds each year, and bird feeders can make birds pacticularly easy prey for them.
Audubon is often asked for recommendations about how to feed birds and what to feed them. There are lots of great choices and an article from Audubon Magazine explains options at https://vt.audubon.org/bird_feeding.
Also, there are three opportunities to participate in community science projects: the Audubon Christmas Bird Count, the Great Backyard Bird Count, and Feeder Watch. All three will help scientists understand how bird population numbers are changing and collect as much data as possible. The Audubon Christmas Bird Count runs from December 14 through January 5. The Great Backyard Bird Count is the weekend of February 14 to 17. Feeder Watch is winter-long survey of birds that visit backyard feeders through April
Get lots of helpful information, tips, resources, and even the names of local plants at www.audubon.org.