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Feeding Birds in Winter in Cape May

Posted 01/24/05
By Paul Kerlinger
Outdoors Editor

The recent blast of cold air, snow, and ice should resonate among birders and homeowners who like to look at birds. Whereas Cape May is known among most birders for its fantastic migrations of birds, fewer birders know that Cape May is a great spot for looking at birds in winter. One of the best ways to watch birds and avoid shivering in 20 degree weather and 20 mile per hour winds is to erect feeders close to your home.

Read more About February Birds in Cape May

With the cold and ice, those birds that cannot up and fly farther south, find it harder to survive and many are now showing up at local feeders.

The birds that are routinely attracted to feeders in Cape May are Mourning Doves, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Blue Jay, Northern Cardinal, Song Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, American Goldfinch, and House Finch You will also get pigeons, House Sparrows, Red-winged Blackbirds, Common Grackles, Brown-headed Cowbirds, and European Starlings, which are a bonus you may not have asked for.

If you are outside of town a bit, you may probably also attract a few other species including Fox Sparrows, Dark-eyed Juncos, Purple Finch, and a few other species. The rich, rusty plumage of Fox Sparrows is gorgeous when the light hits their backs or when they are highlighted by fresh new snow. The Painted Bunting that came to Cape May in November and stayed through much of the winter was found at a feeder, so watch carefully for something different.

Several species that don’t really feed on the seed or other foods that you may put out in winter can also appear near your feeders. Yellow-rumped Warblers, Brown Thrasher, and Carolina Wrens are usually here in winter, but these birds feed on insects and fruit, rather than seed and nuts. These birds are simply attracted to the bustle of birds gathering at feeders.

Although unwanted by some, feeders routinely attract hawks and owls. Because you have attracted an unnatural abundance of songbirds and doves to your feeder, you are likely to attract Sharp-shinned and Cooper’s Hawks. These woodland hawks will often streak by your feeder

So, when the cold, wind, and generally uncomfortable weather is here in town, make sure your feeders are full. Watching cardinals against the snow or simply watching a plump Mourning Dove perched near your feeder while you drink your coffee is a wonderful stress reliever and can be very rewarding.

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