NORTHEAST MICHIGAN - It’s that time of the year to enjoy bird feeders and the wintering songbirds they can attract. Northern cardinals, red-breasted nuthatches, black-capped chickadees, downy woodpeckers, dark-eyed juncos, and white-throated sparrows are ready to visit! 

Bird feed can attract other wildlife as well, especially black bears if they already live in your area. Because bears have settled in for their long winter sleep, winter-time bird feeding should no longer attract them to your yard. Bears love bird seed and will visit feeders regularly when they are awake and moving about. If you live in an area known to have black bear, mark your calendars now to take your feeders inside come March!

After Jan. 31, 2019, deer and elk feeding will not be allowed in the Lower Peninsula in an effort to prevent deer gathering around a food source, which increases the potential spread of chronic wasting disease.

Birders are encouraged to use tube, hopper and suet bird feeders rather than putting seed directly on the ground or using platform feeders, which tend to attract deer and other unwanted guests.

In addition, mess-free bird seed options that can help keep the ground clean are available to purchase at stores. You also can prevent deer access to your feeders by fencing around them if possible. Please review the DNR’s current feeding rules and regulations for your county.