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Bird feeding in the winter

2015 November 23
by Marilu Lopez Fretts
B. Bowen Carr via Birdshare. Bullock’s Oriole in New York! Photo taken in Columbia County, NY on January, 11, 2009. Flickr link:

Photo by B. Bowen Carr via Birdshare.
Bullock’s Oriole in Columbia County, NY.

Winter represents a difficult time for birds in many parts of North America. Cold days with long and even colder nights, barely any vegetation, no insects to eat… What can you do to make their lives easier?

One thing you could do is set up a backyard feeder and enjoy bird watching from home. If you live in an apartment, try to place a hanging birdfeeder from a window or balcony, if possible.

What do birds eat in the winter months? Non-migratory birds shift their diets to seeds and fruits to survive. So this is your opportunity to set the table and invite your feathered friends! The question is: what to feed them?

The commercial mixtures that you can find in most supermarkets may have a high percentage of “filler seeds,” but you can create a low-cost mixture yourself. Black-oil sunflower seeds are a favorite of most species. They are nutritious, high in fat, and easy for small birds to crack.

Dried corn and white proso millet are favored, also. Some birds, like cardinals, appreciate safflower, while other birds enjoy peanuts.

Other high-energy foods birds appreciate are peanut butter or suet (beef fat). Beef suet is available in most supermarkets.

Other birds such as robins, bluebirds and waxwings, prefer fruits. Offer them sliced apples, oranges, and other fresh fruit or frozen berries. You can place fruit on a plate or shallow bowl on a platform feeder or on the ground. If you feed the birds dried raisins and currants, make sure you soften them by soaking the dried fruit in water first.

For more information about bird feeding this winter, visit Feederwatch.

Calling for 2016 mini-grant applications!

2015 November 10
by Michelle Santillan

Birds may be migrating for the upcoming winter, but here at Celebrate Urban Birds, we are still hard at work to help people and communities learn more about their local birds. Every year we invite organizations, educators, and youth to apply for a Celebrate Urban Birds mini-grant, and this year is no different. That’s right, the 2016 mini-grant season is here!

If you are new to this, allow me to explain:

The beautiful canvas done by staff and participants during Worldbeat’s NatureFest event. Read more. Photo by Worldbeat Center.

The beautiful canvas done by staff and participants during Worldbeat’s NatureFest event. Read more. Photo by Worldbeat Center.

Celebrate Urban Birds offers mini-grants that range between $100 and $750 dollars to help organizations with their events. Apart from this, we also offer materials, resources, and training free of charge for the organizations. What a deal! There are only a few requirements and no previous experience is necessary. In order to be a successful applicant, the proposed event must have the essential elements of community involvement, outdoor activities, greening or habitat creation, the arts, and of course, birds. Very simple, right?

Many of our mini-grant winners are featured on our “Events” page, where you can read about their inspiring activities. For example, in May, the WorldBeat Center hosted a series of events in their Ethno-Botany Peace Garden at Balboa Park in San Diego, CA, to teach people about migratory birds. There was music and dance, gardening and installing bird feeders, and an art canvas was painted by all the participants and staff members.

Similarly, in August, Lifeworks Services, Inc., partnered with Minnesota Veterans Home to celebrate birds with wonderful activities that included a mosaic created by all the participants to be placed in their edible plants garden, bird observations done in their local area, and even building a birdbath to place in their garden!

LifeWorks helps participants go birding! Read more. Photo by LifeWorks Services, Inc.

LifeWorks helps participants go birding! Read more. Photo by LifeWorks Services, Inc.

No matter what type of event you decide to do, everyone can come together and enjoy birds, so apply for one of our mini-grants now. Everyone is welcome! Applications are due December 31, 2015, and information about requirements and how to apply can be found here. If you want to read more about events and activities of the past winners, then click here. If you are still unsure or have questions about our mini-grants, be sure to check out our FAQs, or write to Let’s bring bird awareness to more people!

Enjoy the video from the NatureFest, here.


Calling for More Funky Nests Submissions: Deadline extended!

2015 June 10
by Constanza Arévalo and Marta del Campo

A pretty prickly place to give birth. Photo by Barry McNish.

“A pretty prickly place to give birth.” Photo by Barry McNish.

Can you believe it’s almost summer? Birds are nesting everywhere. Have you noticed the nests in your neighborhood? If you have, share images, stories, and more about your beautiful and fun local nests in our current challenge, Funky Nests in Funky Places. We’ve received lots of great pictures, videos, poems, and stories of all kinds of nests in funky places, and the best part is, we’re still accepting submissions and extending the deadline to June 30! Now that the weather has warmed up more and we’re less than two weeks away from summer, there are sure to be plenty of bird nests in all kinds of funky places. If you happen to come across a nest, don’t hesitate to grab your camera and snap a picture or record a video to submit to our challenge. Don’t forget to tell the birds to say cheese! If you’re feeling extra creative, try writing a poem, story, painting a picture, or even write a song about a nest in a funky place!

“Just outside our window”. Photo by Clifford Rumpf, NJ

“Just outside our window”. Photo by Clifford Rumpf, NJ

Our 2015 Funky Nests in Funky Places challenge is open to participants of all ages and from anywhere in the world. Make this a chance to take a walk and enjoy your surroundings with family, friends, or by yourself. When observing bird nests, be sure to keep certain guidelines in mind so as to not hurt the birds. For instance, try keeping your visit short and preferably in the afternoon, and most importantly, don’t touch!

Remember to have fun and even if you don’t find any nests, this is a great opportunity to get in touch with nature and your city or town.

“Robin in need of flood insurance”. Photo by Gerald Wykes, MI

“Robin in need of flood insurance”. Photo by Gerald Wykes, MI

Check out our contest page here for further information and to see entries from this year and past years.