Article by Darlene Betat
The time it takes for newly hatched birds to grow from a naked chick to a feathered adult-sized adolescent is just a matter of weeks. Yep, crazy growth rate! Since most songbird’s young cannot digest seed, bird parents spend all daylight hours hunting for insects and food packed with protein and fat to feed their fast-growing nestlings. Spring cold snaps reduce insect availability and birds are at risk of losing one or more of their nestlings, if they cannot find enough food. Even one day of lack of food can make the difference between nesting success or failure.
You can offer suet and live mealworms to ensure birds have enough food for their young. The bonus is the entertainment that follows! Watch mom and dad carry off suet or meal worms to the nest to supplement insects they’ve found. Later, watch parents feed their young right at your feeders! Of course, being fed there means the young will put your feeders in their natural GPS and will continue to visit your feeders from spring right through winter.
If you haven’t tried offering live meal worms, you are in for a treat! Feeling squeamish about worms? Meal worms are dry beetle larvae in a tub of bran. You can spoon them out on a glass dish with sides and the birds will be thrilled. Don’t be surprised when they line up 3-4 worms in their bills, much as puffin do with fish and take off to feed their young!