Bring out your bird feeders and enjoy winter songbirds

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A pair of cardinals rest and forage on frosty branches. (submitted photo)
LANSING — The snow is already flying in some parts of the state, and there are still plenty of bird species flitting about in the snowflakes. Northern cardinals, red-breasted nuthatches, downy woodpeckers, dark-eyed juncos and American tree sparrows are ready to visit your backyard bird feeders. This year, Michigan is experiencing a rare irruption – a sudden, sharp increase of a natural population due to favorable changes in the environment – of northern finches. Common redpolls, pine siskins and evening grosbeaks have arrived in record numbers in search of cone and seed crops across the state. Now that Michigan winter weather has set in, you can watch these seasonal songbirds flock to your outdoor bird feeders.  
When deciding which feeder to use, consider using a tube, hopper, suet or platform bird feeder, rather than spreading the seed directly on the ground. This will help prevent uninvited guests, like squirrels and bears, from visiting. Be sure your feeder is inaccessible to deer and elk, too, as feeding these animals is banned in the Lower Peninsula and in the Upper Peninsula’s core chronic wasting disease surveillance area, which covers portions of Delta, Dickinson and Menominee counties.
A mess-free birdseed can help keep the ground clean and a fence around the feeder can keep it out of reach. You can find more tips on the DNR Bird Feeding Tips page. Learn more about CWD and the deer and elk feeding ban at
If you live in black bear range, don’t worry about your winter bird feeders. Most black bears should be settled in for their winter hibernation. Just mark your calendars to take your feeders inside come March, when bears exit their dens and begin searching for a replenishing meal.
Are you a birding beginner? Listen to the Wildtalk Podcast episode “This Podcast is for the Birds” to hear from MI Birds, a public outreach program by Audubon Great Lakes and the DNR, on resources to help you get started.
Learn about all things Michigan birds by following MI Birds on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and visiting MI Birds online.
For more information, contact the DNR Wildlife Division at or­­ 517-284-9453. ­­