Local birds add a beautiful mix of color, movement and even entertainment to our backyards during the colder, often snowier winter months. Feeding birds in the winter is a great way to enjoy the outdoors from the comfort of your home. How many of us look forward to watching them gather around the feeder on a cold, winter morning as we start our day!
Aside from plant life, what else can we do to attract more of these beautiful creatures to our backyards?
Provide a fresh water source.
One of the biggest – and often most forgotten – things you can do is provide a fresh water source for the birds. Just like us, birds need to stay hydrated. Eating snow or drinking from puddles may seem like a simple solution. However, puddles often contain run-off from salt, de-icing products and other undesirables. And when it comes to snow, our feathered friends expend a great deal of energy converting the snow into water.
Providing a heated bird bath with fresh water is extremely helpful and will ensure activity in your backyard.
During the colder months, birds require food that is high in calories, especially fat, to keep their energy levels up. Adding a few feeders is especially helpful when natural food sources become more scarce. Black oil sunflower seed is a good universal feed that is popular with most bird species. Suet cakes are also a very popular treat to devour among many bird species.
And, we can’t forget the feeder itself. Did you know the feeder you choose will influence which birds stop by your yard? In addition to seed preferences, different feeders have different features that are useful to different birds. Smaller birds like Finches and Chickadees prefer tube or sock feeders with pegs while larger birds like Jays, Cardinals and Mourning Doves prefer platform or hopper feeders. Suet cake feeders attract Nuthatches and Woodpeckers.
Maintaining Bird Feeders & Bird Baths
Even through winter, maintaining your bird feeders and bird bath is incredibly important. Keeping your feeders and bath clean and the seed refreshed will help ensure our feathered friends stay healthy. (A minimum of every other week is recommended, with fresh seed rather than re-using remaining seed.)
Don’t get discouraged. Sometimes it takes a few weeks for our feathered friends to discover your yard. Once the birds find your yard, you will be captivated by the amazing sights right outside your window.