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Nancy Paul

Nancy Paul

Nancy Paul is a retired Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She devoted her career to the elderly. She now owns and operates “Wild Birds Unlimited,” a specialty backyard bird-feeding store and nature shop located at 2285 South Oneida Street, Suite D in Green Bay. For more information, visit or call 920-489-2684.

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Monday, 30 January 2017 17:44

Winter bird feeding facts

“While birds are equipped to withstand most winter weather, they can’t turn up the thermostat, throw on an extra blanket or whip up a warm cup of cocoa.” Their natural food supply has been consumed or hidden by snow; most insects are dead or dormant; water is now harder to find; the days are short and the nights are long. This is why backyard bird feeding is more crucial now than ever for the survival of our many Wisconsin backyard birds. It is during these times that feeders play their most important role. If a storm is of long duration or temperatures have dipped to extreme cold, a feeding station may mean the difference between life and death for these birds.

Have you noticed how ravenously the birds are eating at your bird feeders, especially first thing in the morning and just before dusk? They are stoking their internal heater to get the day started and replenish fat reserves for another cold night.

Studies show that an average bird within an average environment must forage about 5 hours per day to meet their energy requirements. In winter, they have to forage much longer to maintain their energy level. During cold weather, chickadees have been found to need 20 times more food than they do in the summer to maintain their body heat. We also know that when chickadees have access to feeders, their winter survival rate increases to 69 percent versus 37 percent.

Want to help the birds in your backyard survive the winter? Here’s how!

Add high protein, fat and calories to your feeders. This includes blends with peanuts, tree nuts and lots of black oil sunflowers and chips. (Black oil sunflowers are easier to crack open and has twice the calories of stripped sunflower.)

  • Watch the chickadees go back and forth with a peanut to cache or eat.
  • Blue jays love peanuts in the shell as well as woodpeckers, and will cache them for future use.
  • Offer quality suet that includes nuts. Try adding Bark Butter (peanut based spread for birds).
  • White Proso Millet for the juncos and mourning doves. Spread a little on the ground (snow).
  • Provide a heated bird bath: a water source throughout the winter will contribute to bird survival and attract more birds to your yard. Watch them drink and even bathe in the cold. Clean feathers help to maintain their body heat.
  • Place feeders near bushes for perching and protect them from the wind, snow, ice and predators.

And as always enjoy the birds and their many antics from the warmth of your own comfortable chair! 

Our feathered friends are busy at work preparing for the cold and snowy winter ahead. Noticed more birds coming around and checking your feeders out? Seeing an occasional Downy Woodpecker, Blue Jay or Nuthatch? These birds are now deciding which bird feeders they are going to call home for the winter months. To make sure they are frequent visitors to your feeders this winter, here are a few tips to ensure they become your regular dinner guests.

  • Clean, repair or replace feeders. You can sanitize with a 10 percent bleach solution.
  • Place feeders near a bush or tree if possible — birds will use this for a safe refuge from predators and the cold wind.
  • Offer more high protein and fat foods, including premium oil, sunflower, safflower, peanuts, suet, bark butter, millet for the ground feeders and nyjer.
  • Water — Birds need water in winter to help stay warm and to properly digest food. Consider a heated bird bath. There are heaters to place in your existing bird bath or free standing ones.

Decorate a tree for the birds

While you are preparing for the many Christmas festivities of decorating, baking and gift giving, don’t forget the birds and other wildlife friends that visit your backyard.

Decorating a tree for the birds is a fun and easy activity for all ages. Be sure to select a tree near a window where you and your family can sit back and watch the colorful birds and other critters enjoy these homemade holiday treats. Here are just a few ideas to include bird feeding in your Christmas traditions:

Bagel feeder

  • Split day old plain bagels in half and harden overnight.
  • Spread peanut butter on each side and sprinkle with Wild Birds Unlimited Seed Blend.
  • Tie a string through the hole, and hang from a tree.

Pine cone feeder

  • Pack “Birdacious Bark Butter” into pine cones.
  • Roll pine cones in a WBU Seed Blend.
  • Hang with a string or ribbon from a tree.

Tree garland

  • Heavy fine string is best. Large sewing needles. Raw peanuts in the shell. Dried cherries, cranberries, apples or figs.
  • Alternate between pieces, and a few pieces of dried fruit, etc.
  • Drape around the tree and watch the fun!

May you all have a blessed holiday season and enjoy “feeding the birds”!

Tuesday, 27 September 2016 20:18

Backyard bird feeding: Good for body and soul

Since I was a little girl growing up in Wisconsin, I have been drawn to the birds that surrounded my home. My first recollections were the red-winged blackbirds sitting on the phone lines; the robins hopping around searching for worms after a rain; the ducks and geese flying in formation overhead; and the many sparrows fighting to get their spot at the feeder in front of the kitchen window. I remember sitting quietly watching and listening to the birds and feeling, for a lack of a better word, happy.

I continued my interest in backyard bird feeding throughout my adult years. I remember the excitement I shared with my children when a Downy Woodpecker first came to visit our feeder, and later with my grandchildren who identified my backyard as their “personal zoo!”

As a geriatric social worker for 40 years, I met countless elders living in their own home or in elder care homes who were passionate backyard bird feeders. Their eyes would brighten as they described the antics of the chickadee or the persistence of the squirrels. No matter their physical or mental condition, if they had a bird feeder, it appeared to bring pleasure and purpose to their lives.

In 2011 the US Fish & Wildlife Service identified 2.1 million Wisconsin residents as “wildlife watchers,” including bird feeding, identifying birds, photographing birds, etc. Those of us who enjoy bird feeding have our own understandings as to what draws us to this hobby, but psychologists and sociologists have actually studied this subject, and have concluded that bird feeding/watching contributes to our overall well-being, no matter our age or physical capabilities. Here are just a few of the findings:

  • Bird feeding makes us happy – Bird feeding takes us outside; breathing fresh air; getting out in the sun — “There is a scientific tie between mood and being outside” — even if you can only sit and watch.
  • Bird feeding keeps you physically active – Walking out to the feeder is exercise; needing to shovel a few inches of snow! Filling the feeders. Any physical movement is healthy — “Bird feeding can be an inspiration to keep moving!”
  • Bird feeding makes friends – A network of friends help us stay happy and healthy. Sharing our interests and passions creates strong friendships, which we all need.
  • Bird feeding feeds the brain – Variety is the spice of life! Identifying birds through sight or sound and observing their behaviors is like a mental puzzle — “Neurologists tell us we need to learn new things to keep our brains healthy!”

Why birds?

Birds are everywhere and they are accessible! You don’t have to travel farther than your own backyard to experience their beauty of color and song.

Birds are ever-present. As the seasons change, so will the variety of birds that visit your feeder. Each day will be a new day for bird feeding.

My personal experiences of years of bird feeding, and my professional work with individuals of all ages, led me to the belief that all humans have an innate connection toward nature throughout their life span. Connecting with nature does bring a sense of peace, calm and happiness.

Backyard bird feeding is good for the soul and body. Your feathered friends are waiting to get to know you, so what are you waiting for?

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