Survival of the Fattest
High fat foods may be considered unhealthy by most people, but they highly are sought out by backyard birds. Fat provides them with many important nutritional benefits:
- Foods high in fat are the most concentrated energy source that a bird can consume.
- Stored body fat is the primary energy supply that fuels a bird between meals, through cold winter nights and throughout migration.
- Birds actively use bird feeders during the winter, especially first thing in the morning and just before dusk. These are the times they stoke their internal heater with fat to get the day started or to replenish their fat reserves to endure another cold night.
- Songbirds may use up to ¾ of their fat reserves during one winter night! If sources of high-fat foods are available, they can entirely replenish those fat reserves during the next day. In some birds this can amount to a 10% fluctuation in their daily body weight.
- Bird feeders can be an important food source during winter. When severe weather impacts wild food supplies, birds will turn to feeders as a critical source of high fat foods. It is during these times that feeders play their most vital role. If a storm is of long duration or extreme impact, a feeding station with lots of high fat foods may mean the difference between life and death for these birds.
- When a bird exhausts all of its fat reserves, protein, scavenged mostly from muscles, is used to sustain its energy needs. It is important for birds to eat plenty of fat calories each day in order to maintain their strength and fitness.
- Our backyard suet feeders provide a direct source of high energy fat and many seeds (sunflower, safflower and nyjer) provide high levels of fat due to their substantial oil content.
- High fat foods also provide many of the dietary pigments birds need to impart color in their feathers. These pigment create feather colors that range from red, orange, and yellows to violet.
The top recommended high fat foods for birds are:
- Recommended Blends: No Mess NM, No Mess Plus, TreeNutty Plus, Choice Plus
- Recommended Seeds: Peanuts, Nyjer, Sunflower Chips
- Recommended Other Foods: Suet (PB & J, Naturally Nuts, Nuts & Berries) Bark Butter, Bark Butter Bits