Tips on Winter Bird Feeding

Winter is a crucial time for the birds that remain in our area. They spend their time facing the elements of bitter cold and snowstorms. There are no insects to eat and the natural seeds are covered with snow; the berries and crab apples are gone. Birds need enough food to maintain their body temperatures and must search for food from sun up to dusk. Fortunately, for the birds, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 41 million Americans spend $2 billion annually on bird feed and the numbers are increasing yearly.

Some simple tips to help the birds:

Put Out Feeders with Good Size Capacity: And/ or use multiple feeders to provide ample food especially during snow and ice storms. I bought larger feeders this year and they are STILL emptying the feeders in a couple of days.

Provide Nutritious Winter Foods:  For most birds these often include seed mixes of: black oil sunflower seed, hulled peanuts, nyjer seed and white millet seed.

Offer Fatty Food: Birds need to burn more calories in the winter just to stay warm. Suet is considered a high energy food because it consists of fat. Peanut Butter is also popular with our flying friends but is more expensive than suet. Suet feeders are a favorite of woodpeckers and other insect-eating birds.

Keep Your Feeders Full: Winter birds need to stock up on calories especially for those long, cold winter nights.

Be Consistent and Keep Feeding Through the Winter: Birds grow accustomed to your feeders especially in severe weather when the snacks you offer may mean their very survival. If you leave home for an extended period, try to have a neighbor or friend keep the feeders going.

Remember Water: Birds can become dehydrated in winter even if surrounded by ice and snow. Using bird bath heaters helps keep water from freezing in your bird baths.

Stamp Down the Snow Below: Ground-feeding birds such as dark-eyed juncos, doves and many sparrows will be able to gather up the seed that dropped from the feeders if they don’t have deep snow to try to manage.

Hang Feeders in Cat-Safe Locations: Place bird feeders in locations that do not also offer hiding places for sneak-attacks by cats and other predators. Think of placing the feeders ten to twelve fee from shrubs or brush piles. This gives the birds some time to react.

Remember Feeder Cleanliness: Your feeders can get a little grimy. Because natural food sources are scarcer in the winter, more birds may be attracted to backyard feeders and those feeders will need to be cleaned with some hot water and dried a few times during the season.



From The National Wildlife Federation’s Website

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