Winter Bird Feeding Tips


A steady cast of wild birds will visit your yard during the colder winter months. Here’s our list of “tips and tricks” to increase your enjoyment of winter bird feeding!

High-energy suet is probably one of the most important offerings you can present to your birds in winter. Suet is a quick source of energy and a great way to substitute for the protein rich insects that are hard to find in winter. Hang as many suet feeders around your yard as you can find room for. Keep a supply of suet cakes (which we can speed to your front door!) in your freezer so you won’t be caught without it during the cold winter months.

A source of unfrozen, fresh water is vital to birds in winter. Offering fresh water in your backyard will double the amount of birds you can enjoy during these colder months! Invest in a bird bath heater or at the least, place a small bowl of warm water out everyday for your backyard birds.

Birds need plenty of roosting places during the winter to stay warm. Don’t remove your birdhouses in the winter! Leave them up so birds can use them for shelters from the cold.

Save that Christmas tree! Instead of throwing out your Christmas tree, throw it on the ground where it can offer shelter to birds. Take old shrubbery branches or logs and pile them up! Many birds will appreciate the extra cover. Juncos, towhees and sparrows will appreciate keeping snug during cold winter nights.

Many ground feeding birds will welcome seed sprinkled on the snowy ground where it is easily found.

Many beautiful and colorful finches come to winter feeders. Goldfinches, purple finches, house finches, pine siskins and redpolls look especially beautiful against the winter back drop. Thistle or nyjer seed is an excellent source of energy for these finches in the winter. Because thistle seed is very small and expensive, you may want to invest in a specially designed thistle feeder to dispense the seed economically.

If possible, consider leaving leaves on the ground. Instead of raking them up, leave them or pile them up in an area. Many insect foraging birds will find tasty morsels hidden underneath this shelter from the cold and snow.

Bird feeders are at their busiest in the winter. Suet and seeds disappear quickly. Seed eaters like chickadees, titmice, jays, nuthatches and sparrows are in their element now. This is a great time to add a new bird feeder to your yard. A platform feeder is a good choice.

Shelter your feeding areas. In winter, wild birds will favor sheltered locations. Strong winds are uncomfortable for birds and may scatter your bird seed. Consider moving your feeders to the south side of your home or in a more sheltered location for the winter. Surrounding your feeders with trees and shrubs can help buffer your birds and offer a milder micro climate.

This is a great time to experiment with different foods. With a platform feeder, you can add fruit and bakery products to your winter feeding arsenal. Expand the menu by offering chopped nuts, doughnuts, popcorn, bakery crumbs, grapes, raisins, apple pieces and orange halves. Treat your birds to some home cooking by making muffins, bread and other snacks with sunflower seeds and nuts.

Winter guests will never tire of black oil sunflower seed. Black oil sunflower seed has a high percentage of meat and is a very nutritious source of high quality protein. Black oil sunflower seed has a thin papery shell which makes it easy for smaller birds like chickadees and nuthatches to open and enjoy. This seed also boasts a high concentration of oil which is especially important in the winter. Birds will use their oil glands to spread the oil over their feathers to keep them buoyant, dry and warm.

Keep a good stock of bird seed in case of emergencies. You don’t want to get caught short when you need it most and the weather has gone bad. Consider storing more seed during the winter, or better yet, put a couple of bags in the trunk of your car for safe keeping. The extra weight will give you added traction when the roads are slick, and you’ll always have a ready supply on hand for your hungry winter visitors!

Don’t forget about other wildlife! Put out dried corn cobs or cracked corn for deer, squirrels and chipmunks. They will also appreciate apple pieces!

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