January: New Year, New Life

Believe it or not, January is when the first hummingbird babies fledge. Their tiny nests are just a little bigger than a quarter. To help the mothers, keep your feeders clean and full, and consider putting out fruit, such as banana pieces, to attract fruit flies for them to eat. Better yet, get one of our Humbugs, which give you a convenient way to bring in those fruit flies that the hummingbird mothers count on.


Left: Hummingbird nest



Below: A Barn Owl family in its cozy box


Barn owls also have family on their minds. If you are thinking about putting up a barn owl box, now is the time to do it, because young barn owls are paired off and looking for a place to raise a family. They need to nest in cavities, such as hollow trees, but those are in short supply in suburbia. That loss of habitat has led to some decrease in the number of these helpful hunters of mice and rats. Your barn owl box may be the beginning of a great long-term relationship with a barn owl family.

It's not too late to become a citizen-scientist by participating in Project FeederWatch. It continues until next April. See our Project FeederWatch page.

There aren't many bugs in winter, so what are the insect eaters--woodpeckers, nuthatches, bushtits and bluebirds--to do? They'll come to a yard that offers suet, such as our Super Suet, which includes mealworms, giving them the high protein they need.

Another insect eater is the adorable Black Phoebe. Normally shy of feeders, they will comes to a simple dish or cup with live mealworms. They often are seen perched on street signs, and their sweet song will make you want to feed them.

Look for over-wintering Yellow-Rumped Warblers at your water source and suet feeders, as well as at your nectar feeders. Now that the orioles who enjoyed enjoyed the nectar over the summer have migrated away, the warblers are ready to take over. The sweet nectar is good energy for cold nights.

Goldfinches' natural foods are finished in the mountains, and it will be many weeks until there is a new crop. So, the Goldfinch population at feeders explodes. Keep your nyjer feeders full of fresh seed.

There aren't many bugs in winter, so what can woodpeckers, nuthatches, bushtits and bluebirds to do? They'll come to a yard with suet, such as our Super Suet, which includes mealworms, giving them the high protein they need. 

Small but colorful Downy Woodpeckers are drumming and drilling. They're here all year, but winter is when their drilling picks up as they seek bugs in cool weather. Look for them in groves of trees that drop their leaves in winter, such as liquid amber and ornamental birch.