The house is warm, the fridge is full, and the first snow of the season is a blanket on the ground. This is the perfect time to sit down in front of the window to watch the birds flock to the feeders that I have filled for them.
My grandparents shared with me the importance of feeding the birds when I was a child and that it can be fun as well. I remember quiet times on my grandfathers lap just watching the birds and him telling me about each of the birds. Cherished memories….especially since I lost my grandfather in January 2011.
Just one or two simple things can feed the birds all winter. Timing is everything, so make sure the feeders are all full and ready for the hungry birds to come for a meal before the weather gets bad. Be consistent and keep them filled all winter. I know sometimes that feels like a chore, but it is worth it.
When I was home schooling my children, we made this a winter project. Each child got to pick a feeder that they liked and the food they wanted for the birds, based on what type of bird they were trying to attract. It was a great learning project and it gave my children a better sense of how they needed to protect the wild life around your home. I wonder if they feed the birds now that they have homes of their own?
Do Some Reseach …….
Before you start feeding the birds in your backyard.
My grandfather always had a bird book next to his chair. He loved to watch the birds feed and when if he saw a bird he didn’t recognize, out came the book to do research on that particular bird. He had a wealth of information in his brain about our local birds.
Here are an assortment of bird books you might want to check into.
1. If you love watching birds, you are going to really love bird feeding – I always put my bird feeders where I can see them all the time without disrupting them.
2. Always start small and easy – First try black-oil sunflower in a tubular feeder. This will attract a large combination of different birds to watch.
3. Additional types of feeders and seed will attract even more – Try Nyjer seeds in a tube feeder, and mixtures of black-oil sunflower, hulled sunflower, and whole peanuts in hopper and platform feeders. Don’t forget, peanut butter is a great substitute for peanuts. It sticks to anything and the birds love it!
4. There are a lot of alternative foods and water you can use – Suet (can buy in the supermarket), fruits, mealworms (yuck), nectar and water may attract birds that the other stuff won’t.
5. Birds change with the seasons. So the birds you feed in the winter like something different than the birds in the summer. Do your research to find out what seasonal birds like and then suite that to your seasons.
6. It is important to make your yard bird-friendly – You can provide birds with habitat, food, water, and nest boxes. If you place your bird feeders near larger trees and shrubs more birds will visit because it feels safer for them.
7. Please keep the birds safe – We don’t want them running into our windows, or the cats getting to them. Be sure to clean the feeders often, we don’t want to poison them. Place your feeders at least 3 feet away from windows and remove anything in the area that cats can hide in.
8. When I was a kid, we used binoculars and a backyard bird guide to watch and learn. My grandfather was good at naming them.
9. If you really like bird watching, try exploring farther outside your home. Go to local parks and such to see what birds live there. You can find refuges for them as well. Above all…have fun!
10. If you enjoy feeding the birds! You can contact the NBFS with questions or for assistance with your bird feeding experience!
Bird Feeding Needs To Start Small
Start with ONE feeder – Don’t Take On Too Much Too Soon.
Don’t take on more than you can handle. Remember, you must keep the feeders full for the birds ALL winter. So maybe just start with one feeder for now. Follow the advice from above on where to put it so you will enjoy it to the full.
My grandparents gathered so many types of feeders over the years. It was hard for me not to run out and buy all of them when I finally got my own home. I started small and built up my collection over the years.
But, if you are ready to jump in with both feet; try creating a bird feeding station where you feeders are basically in the same location which gives you the ability to watch the different kinds of birds that will come to feed at the same time. This hook is a great starter place for a feeding station.
Deluxe Bird Feeding Station
Here are some great choices in bird feeding stations. It has several hooks for different kinds of bird feeds and a few other alternatives as well. This will make it easier for you to keep them filled and easy to watch the birds since they will all be around one feeding station.
Now Let’s Put Something on That Bird Feeder Station
A TUBE FEEDER
The hollow tubes will keep the bird seed fairly clean and dry. Depending on the size of the perches under the feeding ports, you may attract small birds such as sparrows, grosbeaks, chickadees, and titmice. Styles with perches above the feeding ports are designed for seed-eating birds that can feed hanging upside down, such as goldfinches and chickadees.
Hopper feeders are attractive to most feeder birds, including finches, jays, cardinals, buntings, grosbeaks, sparrows, chickadees, and titmice; they’re also squirrel magnets. Many hoppers can hold enough seed to last for several days, which can make them very convenient for people, but dangerous for birds if the seed within is allowed to get wet. Hopper feeders can be mounted on a pole or suspended.
PLATFORM OR TRAY FEEDERS
Trays attract the widest variety of seed-eating feeder birds, including pigeons, starlings, and House Sparrows, but also grosbeaks and native sparrows. To keep the birds safe from mold and problems to their food, offer only enough seed in tray feeders for birds to finish every day or two, and shake out the bottom every time you add new seeds.
Now…What to Feed Them?
Start With Sunflower Seed
This is the seed that attracts the most birds. Be sure to purchase seed that is a high quality because many of the less expensive are filled with red millet, oats, and other “fillers” that most birds in most areas hate.
If they don’t eat it, it will just sit in the feeder and mildew and create contaminate food. We don’t want to feed any of our birds bad bacteria.
So be careful!
This is the seed that will fit nicely in the tube feeders. You can also put this in the hopper feeders as well. The birds in your area will go nuts for the sunflower seeds.
Suet is a wonderful food to offer birds and it is high in calories. Because of the fact that it won’t melt in the winter, it is a great winter food. It comes in many different blends with yummy ingredients to tempt different types of birds, and it is easy to make your own custom suet blends. You can buy this in any department store that has bird food or a specialized store just for birds. Look online for recipes to custom make your own blend.
C&S Peanut Delight No-Melt Suet DoughMorning Song Year-Round SuetAudubon Park High Energy Suet CakeF.M. Brown’s Song Blend Premium Shelled PeanutsCole’s RP05 Raw PeanutWild Delight Shelled Peanut Wild Bird Food
This feed can be used year round.
Birds that come to visit you when the snow is on the ground will enjoy the treat of fresh or dried fruit. Offer chopped apples, orange wedges, banana slices, halved grapes and melon rinds on platform feeders, spikes or nailed to trees. Chopped or dried fruit can also be added to suet mixtures.
If you have fruit trees in your yard, leave some of the fruit on the bare branches to give birds a natural food source they can rely on in the winter.
Still not sure what to feed them?
Check out some great bird feeding books that will help you answer any questions you may have.
This information should get you where you want to be before the winter season starts. If you love birds and would like to have them around your house all year, try attracting them with specific bird houses, so just ones that you think are pretty. Check out this page of large bird houses.