Winter Birding: The Importance of Food

 

In Massachusetts, winter is a difficult time for birds. Days are often windy and cold; nights are long and even colder. Lush vegetation has withered or been consumed, and most insects have died or become dormant. During these extremely cold days, finding food can be especially difficult. They cannot forage as easily for food when snow accumulates or temperatures drop to freezing. Some birds remain in the same location year-round and benefit greatly from the extra food sources offered by backyard feeders. These birds require high calorie and oil rich foods to survive our winter.

During spring and summer, most songbirds eat insects and spiders, which are highly nutritious, abundant, and, for the most part, easily captured. During fall and winter, nonmigratory songbirds shift their diets to fruits and seeds to survive. This is the time of year when bird feeding enthusiasts roll out the welcome mat and set the table. The question is, what to serve to attract a diversity of birds? The answer is to provide a variety of food types.

In Massachusetts, we can expect to see the friendly Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, the spectacularly colored Northern Cardinal, all manner of Finch, Sparrows, Woodpeckers and Jays; for a comprehensive list, check out Mass Audubon’s website!

 

Which seed types should I provide?

Black-oil sunflower seeds attract the greatest number of species. These seeds have a high meat-to-shell ratio, they are nutritious and high in fat which is especially important in the winter months. Their small size and thin shells make them easy for small birds to handle and crack. Several studies, including the Cornell Lab of Ornithology Seed Preference Test, show that this high-energy food is the favorite of most birds that visit feeders. Striped sunflower seeds are popular with larger-beaked birds. These striped seeds are larger and have a thicker seed coat than black-oil sunflower.

Peanuts, and tree nuts like almonds, cashews, pecans and pistachios are enjoyed by Jays, Woodpeckers, Chickadees, Nuthatches, Carolina Wrens and Titmice. If you don’t want squirrels “going nuts” for these foods, try using a squirrel-resistant feeder.

Millet is a small round seed. It comes in white and red varieties; most birds prefer white proso millet over red. Nyjer®, or thistle seed, is a delicacy for small Finches such as Goldfinches, Siskins, and Redpolls. Offering the small-sized, premium-priced Nyjer seeds in special Nyjer feeders will provide more value for your money. These feeders come in either a sock form with a small mesh fabric, or a tube feeder with tiny ports that prevent the seeds from spilling out. Finches will pull the seeds individually through the mesh or ports to enjoy them.

Birds’ feeding habits vary based on weather patterns and season. The best thing to do is experiment with seed and your backyard feeders. Take notes and photos for a personal sense of well-being and a great activity to do with kids!

lyric-cardinal_detail lyric-supreme

We love Lyric Bird Seed because of their superior ingredients that ensure our New England birds have their essential nutrients to thrive- especially in the winter months. A superior seed means you will attract the widest variety of birds around! All birding products are available in our Winchester, Falmouth, Tewksbury and Concord stores.

 

IN THE GREENHOUSE

It’s time to refresh and welcome the new year! Our greenhouses are stocked all year round with lush houseplants – especially for the winter months! Stop in to see our product selection re-freshed weekly with tabletop to floor-sized plants. Please note, supplies and selection will vary at each Mahoney’s location.

Video Look: Thanksgiving in the Florist

For decorating your small gathering or gifting thanks to a loved one, the Florist at Mahoney’s is here to help. Find beautiful arrangements, hand-tied bouquets and custom planters at our full-service Florists in Winchester and Tewksbury. Pickup in-store or order online: https://mahoneysgarden.com/florist/

LED WINDOW CANDLES & STRING LIGHTS

Introducing Celestial Lights by Mahoney’s, our very own window candles and string lights to make your holidays merry and bright!

WINDOW CANDLES

Our LED battery-operated window candles are designed with you in mind!

  • With a dual intensity LED bulb that glows brighter on the “street side” of the candle, and softer on the inside for a subtle illumination
  • An easy built-in timer turns candle on for 6 hours every evening.
  • Adjustable height to fit perfectly in any window
  • Lasts 30 days on 1 set of 4 AA Batteries
  • Available in bronze, black, brass, brushed nickel and silver.

 

LED STRING LIGHTS

With commercial grade quality, and a unique 70 bulb count, our string lights are the perfect addition to any indoor or outdoor space… all year round!

Spaced at 6” intervals that make the 35 foot string longer than most, and easier to use when lighting wreaths, garlands and trees. 5mm wide-angle bulbs have a concave lens that disperses light in all direction for a beautiful display of brightness.

Patented Perma-Seal® sockets eliminate moisture-related failures, holding up to the outdoor elements! Available in warm white, cool white, red, green, and blue.

 

 

VIDEO HOW-TO: ARRANGING WINTER GREENS

It’s the perfect time to arrange your cut greens in window boxes and planters before the soil freezes! Here’s a quick look at how Julia spruced up the window boxes in front of our Winchester store yesterday. Stop in this weekend for fresh cut greens, wreaths, garlands and all of the decorative accessories you’ll need to personalize your display!

Arranging your Winter Planter


Brought to you by our friends at Proven Winners, here’s a great tutorial on how to arrange your winter planters! Please visit us to find all the fresh (and life-like!) greens, decorative berries, twigs, and sprays to make your outdoor presentation festive this holiday season! While our assortment of greens may vary from the video, you can easily find cedar, firs, white pine and more!

Decorating your winter window box


Brought to you by our friends at Proven Winners, here’s a great tutorial on how to arrange your winter planters! Please visit us to find all the fresh (and life-like!) greens, decorative berries, twigs, and sprays to make your outdoor presentation festive this holiday season! While our assortment of greens may vary from the video, you can easily find cedar, firs, white pine and much more!

Winchester Farmstand Now Open!

Don’t miss our Winchester farmstand’s fresh makeover! Stop in to find local fruits and veggies, an incredible selection of Stonewall Kitchen products, and more!

Fall Annuals Are Here!

With the summer coming to a close, we yearn for warm colors and rich textures around the home. Refresh your outdoors too! Update your annual beds, container gardens or window boxes with the palette of autumn. Choose from a great selection of cold-tolerant mums, cabbage, kale, grasses and premium annuals to take you through the fall season.