Bird Feeding - Winter

Our fine feathered friends
Winter weather sure makes our lives miserable sometimes. As difficult as it can get for us, it’s hard to imagine what it’s like for the wild animals out there…especially the tiny birds that we share winter with. How in the world do they stay warm?

Tufted titmouse

To endure such unrelenting cold, winter birds need to stay active, and their activity is fueled by calories and protein. The trick to attracting birds is providing calories and protein in forms that they prefer like sunflower seeds. Black Oil Sunflower is higher in calories per pound than Gray Striped Sunflower. Many people believe that striped sunflower must be better because it costs more. In reality, the reason striped is more expensive is due to supply and demand. Striped sunflower can be machine hulled with the kernel intact. Hulled sunflower kernels are consumed by humans in a variety of forms. These alternate demands on the supply of Gray Striped Sunflower are what keep the price higher than Black Oil Sunflower. Black sunflower is used only for bird feeding. I’ve found that the smaller black seed are more easily handled by chickadees and other small birds.

Add more black oil sunflower to their feeder for extra calories.

The second most important food for wild birds is fine cracked corn. Cracked corn appeals to ground/platform feeding birds like cardinals, doves and juncos. When you shop for cracked corn, be sure you get FINE cracked corn. Medium or coarse cracked corn is too large to be beneficial to small wild birds.

Supercharge birds with suet.
Suet provides maximum calories to help birds stay warm and is a favorite of nuthatches and woodpeckers. Suet comes in lots of flavors like peanut, fruit and nut, blueberry and more. I like to buy the ten pack so I have a ready supply during these coldest days of winter.

Keep your feeders topped off.
Make sure that you keep your feeders topped off. Once you start feeding the birds, they become dependent on the supply you’ve been providing. This is the time they need the food the most.

Water attracts lots of birds in winter.
During extended periods of sub-freezing weather, birds will have a hard time finding water. If you provide fresh water, the traffic to your feeding stations will increase dramatically. You can refill the water source each day or use an electric birdbath warmer to keep ice from forming. I only plug mine in during the very coldest days of winter.

A birdbath heater makes sure that water is available even on the coldest days.