The Canadian Wildlife Federation recently announced that of the 14 species of woodpeckers in Canada, four are listed as “at-risk nationally”. Twelve are listed as “at-risk” in at least one province. Woodpeckers and other birds are facing a series of pressures on their populations including pesticide use (which poisons their prey), competition from starlings for nesting sites, climate change and loss of standing dead trees (or dead parts of living trees).
Here is some great information on how to help backyard birds survive the winter from Canadian Wildlife Federation’s backyard habitat program.
“Sunflower seeds will attract purple finches, cardinals, goldfinches, grosbeaks, juncos, chickadees, nuthatches, and many other birds. Black oil sunflower seeds are especially good due to their higher oil and calorie content. There are also plenty of commercial birdseed mixes available, but be aware that mixes containing a high proportion of ingredients such as hulled oats, rice, peanut hearts, corn and wheat can bring in pests such as pigeons, starlings and house sparrows. Suet provides a high-energy food source for woodpeckers, nuthatches and other insect-eating birds, helping them survive the harsh winter season. Just don’t leave it out in warmer weather; one study showed that partially melted fat caused problems for woodpeckers, causing matting and a loss of facial feathers. Do not put out salty, mouldy, or sugary foods.”
If you would like to see a woodpecker at the zoo, we have a pileated woodpecker that lives with two Steller’s jays next the Native Bird Building. You can also see downy woodpeckers and hairy woodpeckers in Assiniboine Park and Forest. For a full list of birds in Assiniboine Park, CLICK HERE.