Fifteen minutes after filling the bird feeder for the first time in the fall and putting it up on our deck, we have visitors. We don't feed birds in the summer - there is plenty of wild food available and we don't want to attract bears. But when fall comes we're happy to draw some of our feathered, fellow year-round Alaskans to our house and yard.
More than 400 different species of birds can be found in Alaska in the summer, but that number drops dramatically in winter. About 25 species endure the cold, dark winters of interior and western Alaska. Although more than 100 species stay through the milder coastal winters of south coastal and southeast Alaska, many of those are unlikely to visit feeders. Juncos and chickadees are our most common feeder birds in Juneau. A pair of Steller jays dominates our feeding area, so we have several feeders with different kinds of seeds, including a tube feeder that's better suited for smaller birds.
Seed-eating birds that can be attracted to feeders in winter include sparrows - like white crowned sparrows, and finches like pine grosbeaks, redpolls, pine siskins and crossbills. Our feeders are safely away from the reach of neighborhood cats.