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The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department recommends state residents wait to put up bird feeders until Dec. 1 to avoid attracting bears.

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The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department recommends state residents wait to put up bird feeders until Dec. 1 to avoid attracting bears.

“This may be a particularly good winter for attracting winter birds arriving from Canada, including Evening Grosbeaks and Purple Finches. Black oil sunflower is a good seed choice that will attract a variety of birds, and folks may want to try other seeds or suet to attract certain species. Thistle, for example, attracts many of the finches. Gardeners will find leaving late-blooming flowers uncut provides seeds which can also attract birds,” said Doug Morin, Vermont Fish and Wildlife’s bird project leader.

While watching bird feeders, Vermonters can participate in one or more bird monitoring projects by looking up the Audubon Christmas Bird Count, the Great Backyard Bird Count and Project Feeder Watch — all three collect important information to understanding bird populations.

The Fish and Wildlife Department offers these tips for bird-friendly bird feeding:

Keep cats inside. Domestic cats are the leading cause of bird death in North America, and feeders can make birds particularly easy prey.

Place feeders closer than 4 feet or farther than 10 feet from a window. This will reduce window collisions.

Clean feeders regularly. To eliminate harmful bacteria and viruses, feeders should be washed every few weeks with a 10 percent bleach solution, then rinsed and allowed to dry before refilling.

Feed birds only from Dec. 1 to April 1, but remove feeders if signs of bears appear. Most bears should be hibernating, but some wait or re-emerge in warm weather. Bears that get food from people will try again, potentially leading to property damage and dangerous encounters that can result in the bear’s demise.


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