Five Tips for Feeding Birds This Winter
Authored by Amanda Cothern
Authored by Amanda Cothern
Winter bird feeding is a great way to bring a variety of birds to your yard, plus your feathered friends will appreciate the meal and treats throughout the cold months. When temperatures begin to dip, food resources for the birds become scarce. Placing multiple feeders in your yard will not only help migrating birds with a quick snack before moving on but also keep local birds in your area for seasons to come.
If you’re hoping to attract specific birds to your feeder, providing their favorite seeds, dried fruits, and insects will help you in your mission. Smaller birds like chickadees, goldfinches, house finches, and more like to eat black oil sunflower seeds, mixed seed, or safflower. If you want a larger variety of birds, including small breeds, cardinals and jays, using safflower, sunflower, and cracked corn will draw backyard birds to your feeders. Doves will generally stick to the ground to feed on any dropped seed from the feeder, but you can provide a covered ground feeder with cracked corn, milo, millet, or mixed seed to help them get their fill.
Your backyard birds will come to rely not only on the feed you provide, but also any water sources you may have available. Bird baths or other water locations should be placed in sunny areas to help keep the water from freezing. You can also purchase a heated bird bath to help keep the water source from freezing over.
Tip 1. What do you feed birds in the winter?
You’ll want to feed a nutritionally balanced bird feed, like mixed seed, black oil sunflower seed, safflower, and more. Don’t forget about the insect protein! Live or freeze-dried mealworms are available to mix in with your seed or provide a separate feeding area for the treats.
Tip 2. What is the best bird feeder for winter feeding?
Tube feeders are one of the most popular to have for your feeding area. You can fill it with black oil sunflower, mixed seed, safflower, or de-shelled, dry-roasted, and unsalted peanuts. Hopper feeders are enclosed and use the weight of the bird to open for feeding time. Sunflower seed, safflower, or cracked corn do well in hoppers. Using any closed-top bird feeder will help keep the weather elements out of your seed. Stay away from platform feeders during winter months, as your feed can become wet and unappealing to your backyard birds.
Tip 3. How do you set up a winter bird feeding station?
One of the best things about feeding birds in your backyard is that you can watch them as they gather to eat. With that in mind, select an area that has some cover from the elements, is at least 3ft away from a window and 5ft off the ground.
Tip 4. How do you handle icy conditions?
If the feeder openings are not iced over, your feeder will be able to accommodate the birds even in the iciest of conditions. If your feeders are completely iced over, you can take this time to bring them in for a good cleaning with warm water.
Tip 5. How do I keep the feeder clean over winter?
It’s always recommended to clean your bird feeders every two weeks. This will help prevent the spread of any diseases through the backyard flock. You’ll want to use a cleaning solution that’s 9 parts water and 1 part bleach. Scrub any leftover seed or debris from inside and outside your feeder. Always remember to dry it before refilling. If you’re providing a bird bath for wild birds, freshen the water every other day and use a solution of 9 parts water, 1 part vinegar to scrub any bird waste or debris from the bath.