Think about your favourite restaurant. Sure, you probably enjoy the ambiance and service, but it's really the delicious food that keeps you going back, right? When it comes to attracting birds to your backyard this season, keep in mind the same principle applies for them. They'll appreciate the water and shelter you provide, but what will really bring them back year after year will be the quality and variety of the food they find in your backyard. Seed and suet are staples, and birds will reward you for serving them by flocking to your outdoor oasis. Keep in mind, suet is not just for winter anymore. No-melt formulas make it the perfect protein for warm-weather feeding too. But if you really want to wow birds, serve mealworms. What you may consider utterly icky - mealworms - is like candy to the birds. And not only are mealworms delectable to your feathered friends, they're an important source of much-needed nutrition during a season that is vital to birds' survival. Warm months are crucial for backyard birds. Their long migration north can leave them fatigued, stressed and depleted. Then, as soon as they arrive in their spring and summer habitat, they must begin the arduous process of finding a mate, staking out their territory, building a nest and raising their young - all while hunting for food. And they have just a few short months to raise their young before it's time to migrate again in anticipation of cold weather. Before your feathered friends show up, make sure all feeders, baths and houses are in good repair and clean. A quick rinsing with bleach, warm water and detergent gets rid of dirt, grime and mould. Then, think about the menu. If you already serve a seed brand that's natural, not washed or coated with chemicals or mineral oil, and doesn't include cheap filler seeds, you're on the right track. Add in some succulent suet, and you have the makings of a dining dream for backyard birds. Now push it over the top by adding dried mealworms to the birdie buffet. High in protein, fat and potassium, mealworms help birds maintain energy. They're favourites for species like bluebirds, flickers, woodpeckers, nuthatches, siskins and chickadees, and are a perfect food source for newborn nestlings. However, it can be much harder for humans to see the appeal; after all, we don't usually seek out the company of grubs and larvae. And handling live mealworms is probably not a welcomed bird-feeding experience even for the most committed bird enthusiasts. In the past, it was difficult for bird fans to provide a supply of mealworms for their feathered friends. But freeze-dried varieties, like Cole's Dried Mealworms have made it easy to serve this nutritious, much-loved treat year round. Freeze-dried mealworms provide all the nutritional benefits of fresh ones and are easy to store and serve. It's also a great way to serve birds something they love without having to endure the "ick factor" of live mealworms. A variety of feeders are specifically made for serving mealworms, or you can blend with your seed mixes and add to any feeder. Either way, the birds will benefit from the nutritional value of these high protein-packed treats and you'll satisfy their craving, keeping them coming back for more. With a little preparation and the right blend of food, water and shelter, you can fill your backyard with the bright colours and welcome song of birds all season - and give your feathered friends the help they need to thrive throughout the year. If birds arrive at a well-stocked and well-prepared backyard, they will not only stay for the summer, but probably return the following spring.
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