Local birder offers tips on helping birds in freezing weather

While birds can survive without our help in winter, many will benefit from having their hunt for food made easier when temperatures drop below seasonal normals.

Local birder Anne Nightinggale suggests keeping feeders full, offering suet and even peanut butter formed into balls, smeared on a tree or piece of wood, to keep a variety of birds health and happy.

But it hummingbirds that need a little extra attention right now. If you hang a feeder, it will freeze in the current temperatures.

Local birder Anne Nightinggale says while some people bring their feeders in at night and put them back out in the morning, you need to do that pretty early:

" Now the sad news for most of us, that means setting an alarm to go off while it's still dark because when they wake up they need the food right away. And if it's not there, that could be a problem. "

Another idea is to adjust the sugar content in the solution:

"You can increase the sugar a bit, say up to one part sugar to three parts water when it's below freezing. It won't freeze as much when it has a bit more sugar in it."

Using a larger feeder also slows down the freezing process. Nightinggale strings incandescent Christmas lights -- not LEDs --  around her feeder to keep the solution warm.

You can also put a sock over the feeder, or tape a hand warmer to the bottom -- the kind skiers use.

Nightinggale adds it is vital to keep all the feeders you use clean to prevent the spread of disease.

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