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Long Winter, Cold Spring Make Darien Birds Hungry

Joe Warren, owner of Wild Birds Unlimited in Darien, said that the long winter and cold spring have had an impact on birds' food supply.
Joe Warren, owner of Wild Birds Unlimited in Darien, said that the long winter and cold spring have had an impact on birds' food supply. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue

DARIEN, Conn. -- Joe Warren of Wild Birds Unlimited in Darien says the long winter and unusually cold spring that we've seen this year has had an impact on the area's bird population.

"The birds are eating more than you'd normally expect because of the cold weather," Warren said. "They need more energy to cope with the colder weather, and the only place they find that energy is through food."

The temperatures in March and April were 3.1 degrees cooler than normal, according to Gary Lessor, assistant to the director of the meteorological studies and the Weather Center at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury.

The area is also starting May cooler than normal. As a result of this, Warren said a lot of birds have not started nesting like they normally would.

"At this time of year, you expect to start seeing resident populations of hummingbirds, but we're not. We're still seeing migrating birds coming through," Warren said. There have been few reports of hummingbirds up in Maine and Vermont, and he said we shouldn't expect to see them in this area for another week or two.

"I haven't had any reports from my customers of hummingbirds coming frequently to their feeders."

But not all birds appear to have been affected by the cold weather. Though bluebirds aren't that prevalent in Darien, Warren said customers from places such as Greenwich, Weston and Wilton are seeing them.

"They're already seeing pretty good populations of bluebirds. That mean's they're nesting, that they're here for the summer. The weather has not impacted them at all, they're right on target."

The cold weather has had an impact on the birds' food supply.

"After the storms we've had the last couple of days, you expect to walk outside and see lots and lots of worms. We haven't seen that, because it's so cold," Warren said. "For birds, that's problematic because they need that protein source to feed their nestlings."

Wild Birds Unlimited sells bird seed, as well as live mealworms for birds to eat. Warren said a common misconception is that once trees start to show green, that means there's food for the birds. But he said that most of the seeds that birds feed on won't appear until late summer or early fall.

"Contrary to what people think, there's not a lot of food sources for birds until later in the summer. So we encourage people to continue to fill their bird feeders."

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