Ridgefield's new feeding station offers 'great way to see birds' in winter – even from your car

RIDGEFIELD – The Ridgefield Conservation Commission has installed a new winter bird feeding station that it hopes will grow residents’ interest in birding as well as attract more species to observe.

“You can easily see over 100 species (that) visit Ridgefield every year,” Conservation Commission member Allan Welby said. “But it’s difficult in the wintertime."

But thanks to “a generous grant from the Ridgefield Thrift Shop,” he said, the Conservation Commission purchased eight bird feeders – including platform feeders, tube feeders, mash feeders, suet feeders and thistle feeders. They were installed next to the parking area at Richardson Park at 729 North Salem Road.

“On a nice day, you can find over two-dozen species at the feeders,” Welby said.

To see a variety of birds, "it’s easier to go walking down the trails in the springtime. But there’s also interesting birdlife in the wintertime – birds we don’t get any other time of the year," he said. "And one great way to see birds is at feeders. Another great way to see birds is from the comfort of your own car.”

With the lack of snow on the ground this winter, birds haven’t been going to the feeders much to eat, Welby said. But he goes every day to keep the feeders full and check on any activity.

The feeders will be in place from through March, he said.

The Conservation Commission also received a second “generous grant” from the Ridgefield Thrift Station to install nesting boxes for eastern screech owls in open space forests, Welby said.

It’s getting more and more difficult to find screech owls in Ridgefield’s woods, he said. He attributed their absence to a number of factors, such as eating mice that have ingested poison and  losing their habitat from people cutting down trees.

“The bottom line is the Conservation Commission is trying to help out the population of screech owls,” Welby said, “so we put up a number of nesting boxes for screech owls.”

The nesting boxes have been positioned near the edges of woodland areas – the screech owls' preferred location to roost, he said. They are oriented with their openings facing 135 degrees southeast so the owls can catch the sunlight.

Visitors can view the nesting boxes, but they should not disturb the owls, the Ridgefield Conservation Commission said.

The screech owl nest boxes are placed near parking areas at Aldrich Park, Levy Park, Lake Windwing, McKeon Farm, Shadow Lake, Bennetts Pond, Jones Trail, Spectacle Swamp, Sarah Bishop, Old Sib and Richardson Park.

A dozen screech owl nest boxes have been installed so far, Welby said, and he plans to put up another dozen.

The Conservation Commission is always seeking to get residents excited about the town’s natural history, with the hope of inspiring the public to preserve more open space – which is an ongoing goal of the Conservation Commission, he said.