Are you a bird watcher like me? If you are, you know how important it is to help our feathered friends during the winter when their natural food sources aren’t readily available. As we move deeper into the month of November and the temperatures drop, I wanted to share with you some tips for feeding the birds in your area this winter.
I like to curl up on an-unrushed morning with a cup of fresh, green tea and watch the little feathered creatures dance and dart around, singing cheerful songs and looking so carefree. After reading up on the Cornell School of Ornithology’s website, I found out that not only is fresh food important, but also water. Water is something that many people overlook but is just as vital during the winter since many water sources in the colder climates are frozen over. Use a bubbler to keep the water from thawing in your favorite bird bath or make another source of fresh water for them in a bowl. Finding food and water after a heavy snowfall is especially hard on these little guys when the vegetation is covered over and most insects have died off or become dormant. This is when our feeding really comes in handy.
Here is what’s in my bird feeders in the yard.
- Black-oil sunflower seeds – This high energy food is a favorite to most birds. They are nutritious, easy to crack open and are high in fat. Traditional striped seeds are larger and have a thicker shell.
- Cracked corn and millet are good options for the blackbirds, finches and sparrows.
- Thistle seed is a delicacy for smaller birds such as finches which goes in a separate hanging tube feeder.
- Safflower seed is good and draws mostly cardinals.
- Suet blocks are traditionally made from beef fat and the insect eating birds such as chickadees, woodpeckers and nuthatches love a good suet block. Peanut butter is another good option if you don’t want to hang blocks of beef fat around the yard.
If possible, try to put your feeders in a protected place such as a mature tree or evergreen to help protect them from predators and the elements. Also, another thing to note, I advise not using those cute feeders that you attach to your window. I know it’s fun to watch them up close, but many birds are killed each year in window collisions. Don’t let your yard become a bird graveyard. They have window decals that help deflect some of the catastrophes available for purchase online if you have a lot of big windows.
Some of the birds I’ve had at my various feeders have been house wrens, blue jays, cardinals, sparrows, finches, and even doves. I feed them primarily a big mix as formulated (see list above) by the Cornell Lab for Ornithology that I got at a local big box store. It has cracked corn, millet, black sunflower seeds, and even some nuts. It seems like it is a great mix for just about everyone. After all birds do inspired some great interior design.