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Being Seasonally Savvy: A Wintertime Tip

By Wild Birds Unlimited, Tampa


Let’s talk inchworms.

 

Wait…what does that have to do with feeding birds during winter? So glad you asked. It’s really a great story.

 

Believe it or not, inchworms are an important source of food for several of our winter birds.

 

Inchworms are the larvae, or caterpillars, of small geometrid moths. There are more than 1,400 species native to North America. These caterpillars overwinter in the bark and limbs of trees, as do other numerous insect larvae, pupae and eggs. All of them have an amazing ability to tolerate extreme cold while maintaining the spark of life that allows them to emerge undamaged next spring.

 

Over the eons, many of our winter birds learned to glean the trees in search of this frozen food supply that is high in the fats and protein they need to survive. It’s a behavior you have probably observed as you watched nuthatches, chickadees, kinglets, wrens and Brown Creepers explore every nook and cranny in the trees around your yard.

 

Providing high-energy, high-fat bird foods, such as suet, is hard to beat, especially during the winter. It is a great way to embrace the changing seasons and provide your birds with the best foods for their shifting nutritional needs.  

 

Your birds will love it, and besides, you may also be giving a cute little frozen inchworm a welcome reprieve to defrost come spring.

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