Winter Bird Feeding

October 28, 2014 | By | More

winter bird feeding

One of my favorites: a nuthatch!

One of my favorite things to do in winter is snuggle up with a cup of coffee in our sunroom and watch the birds at our feeders. It’s one of those activities that can lower my blood pressure on the spot. We also get a kick out of watching our cats watch the birds. They are endlessly fascinated! These moments bring me into the present, so they are priceless.

We have done a lot to make our yard a haven for several types of wildlife. We plant flowers that attract hummingbirds, bees and butterflies, incorporate host plants for monarch and black swallowtail caterpillars, hang mason bee and bat houses, and feed our backyard birds. The changing seasons provide something new to see all year long and watching nature happen in our yard is one of my favorite things to do.

Winter bird feeding makes sense because it’s most difficult for birds to find naturally-occurring food during the coldest months of the year, but we feed our backyard birds all year long. Birds are not only fun to watch, they are beneficial to a garden because many of them eat harmful insect predators on your plants. Whether you’re a gardener or you just enjoy nature’s ever-changing show in your yard, attracting birds is a good idea. The basics for turning your yard into your own personal bird sanctuary are food, water and shelter.

winter bird feeding

Whole peanuts bring a party of bluejays.

In the winter, many birds’ eating habits change. They may shift, for example, from a diet high in insects and worms to supplemental seeds and nuts. Birds need foods that are higher in fat and calories in order to survive the winter. Some good choices for winter bird feeding include black oil sunflower seed, suet, and peanuts. We have American goldfinches too, so we feed them nyjer thistle seeds. They also eat from the spent echinacea flowers that we leave standing until spring. Be sure to empty and clean out your feeders occasionally.

Locate your feeder in an open area with some protection from wind and cover nearby. Birds like to seek cover and hide from predators in shrubs and trees in winter. We also leave all of our ornamental grasses standing through winter for this purpose. The birds love them and the grasses look so pretty when tipped with the first snow of the year.

winter bird feeding

We get lots of these little woodpeckers, too.

Winter bird feeding isn’t just about food, though. Fresh water is the second-most valuable thing you can provide for your backyard birds in winter, and birds will use a bird bath both for bathing and drinking. If you want to attract lots of birds to your yard in winter, invest in a heated bird bath. We take ours out of storage in late fall, running an extension cord from the yard to an outlet on our deck. The heating element is just powerful enough to keep the water from freezing and our birds flock to it all winter. Clean your bird bath and refresh the water several times a week.

Winter bird feeding is easy when you remember and tend to the basics of food, water, and shelter. Once you get used to seeing the colorful parade of songbirds in your yard, you may be inspired to start a year-round feeding operation.

 

 

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Category: Enviable Ideas, General, Home and Garden

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