Check your Bird Feeder

      I can hear them singing in the trees and see them flying through the skies.  The DNR is encouraging people to check their birdfeeders and here is why.

Late arrival of spring affecting migrating birds

Spring is an exciting time to see wildlife in Minnesota. Birds are returning from their winter homes, but this winter has been too long for many species, according to the Department of Natural Resources. Many bird species are back to Minnesota to nest, but they’re dying of starvation. Insect-eating birds are not finding enough food and the late snowfalls have had a harsh effect on many species. 

Over the last week, DNR managers and officers have received reports throughout the state of dead swallows, bluebirds, kinglets, sparrows, robins and warblers. All of these species are insect eaters, according to Carrol Henderson, DNR Nongame Wildlife Program supervisor. 

In Brainerd, 19 dead swallows were found in nine different nest boxes. At Crow Wing State Park, 27 swallows and two bluebirds were found dead in nest boxes. “Though birds are dying in other places, people with nest boxes should check them for dead or dying birds and report any banded birds found,” Henderson said. “Citizens can help by putting out meal worms for blue birds and other worm-eating birds.  Unfortunately, there isn’t anything we can do for the swallows, who rely on flying insects for their main food source,” Henderson said. “Temperatures above 60 for a period of two to three days should produce enough insects to revive birds currently in peril.” 

“Migrating birds are always pushing the snowline” said Conrad Christiansen, retired DNR biologist. “Birds such as woodcock return about mid March. If we experience a heavy, late snowfall, some birds will suffer.”   A similar situation occurred in 1969, when there was a late April snowfall in Minnesota.