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How To Best Feed Birds In The Winter – Our Top Winter Bird Feeding Tips

When it comes to helping birds survive the long, harsh conditions winter can bring, nothing can be more helpful that supplying them with the feed they need to fuel their bodies

Winter is tough on birds. Not only can it be hard to find adequate shelter from the cold and precipitation, they have to be wary of predators that are hungry for food sources as well. Making matter worse, food can be very scarce, as can a source of reliable water.

Insects that were more than plentiful in the spring, summer and fall have all but disappeared. Likewise, so have all of the fresh berries, seeds and nuts that nature provides throughout the growing season.

feeding birds in the winter
As the temperatures drop and the snow flies, it can be hard for birds to find both water and food. A little help in providing both can go a long way in helping them to survive until spring.

Making matters worse, when the temperatures drop below freezing, fresh drinking water is nearly impossible to find. And that is exactly why it’s vital to help birds out wherever and whenever we can during the winter months.

With that in mind, here are a few simple winter bird feeding tips to help keep your neighborhood songbirds alive and well.

How To Best Feed Birds In The Winter

Supply Birds With A High Calorie / High Fat Feed

As the cold weather settles in, birds need and use a lot of calories to stay warm. And one of the best ways to help them is by supplying them with a steady diet of high calorie / high fat food. Not only will it help keep them warm, but healthy too.

At the top of the list are black oil sunflower seeds, millet seed and peanuts. All of these are excellent choices for filling your bird feeders with in the winter. They provide the high fat and calorie content birds need most.

Although any single one of these work well, providing a mixture works best. Not only will it attract more birds, but they get a bit more of a balanced diet with more than just one food source.

black oil sunflower seeds
One of the best sources of nutrition for birds is black oil sunflower seeds. Their high fat and calorie content provide plenty of energy, which is important for birds trying to keep warm through the cold of winter.

As for the sunflower portion, black oil sunflower seeds are the best choice of all. Although striped sunflower seeds are a good source of nutrition for birds, black oil seeds have nearly double the calorie content. Because of this, they give a much larger boost of energy for birds in a single feeding. Product Link : 25lb. Bag Black Oil Sunflower Seed

Additional Food Sources

As mentioned above, providing a variety of food sources is the best option for winter bird feeding. Whether making your own bird feed (See our article : How To Make Nutritious, Low-Cost Bird Feed), or purchasing ready made mixes, be sure they contain wholesome ingredients and not a large portion of low-calorie fillers.

And don’t be afraid to supplement your mixes too! Adding a bit of dried fruits and berries to your feeder will not only attract more birds, but give them a big boost of energy.

Another great option is to supplement your feeding with suet. Suet is made from animal fat, and provides loads of nutrition to scavenging birds. It can be purchased in blocks, balls, or can be spread on large pine cones and hung from trees. Product Link : Wildlife Suet Balls

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Feed Your Birds Regularly – How To Best Feed Birds In The Winter

Equally as important as feeding your birds the right diet is feeding them consistently. Birds are creatures of habit. If they know there is an available food source, they will keep coming back to it time and time again.

By keeping feeders filled consistently, you give birds a reliable and safe source of food. This is especially important when the weather turns extremely cold or snowy. As the snow piles up, sometimes the only food source is a filled bird feeder!

Ground Feeding

Although bird feeders do an excellent job of providing a safer choice for feeding, spreading a bit of food on the ground is also important.

Many species of birds prefer to source their food from the ground, and not from hanging bird feeders. In addition, when the ground becomes covered with snow, scattering a bit of food on top allows them an easier method for feeding.

Suet balls are a wonderful way to provide a high energy food source for winter feeding birds. They can be hung from trees, feeders or even from the eaves of a house.

When broadcasting seed, try to spread the seed in wide open spaces. This allows the birds plenty of space to stay clear of predators that can often lurk in bushes or near trees.

Birds Need Water, Even In The Winter

One of the most overlooked needs of an overwintering bird is a good source of water. Filling bird baths or setting out small pans of water during daylight hours will go a long in helping birds maintain their health.

Unfortunately, when the weather turns brutally cold, the water may freeze quickly. But by putting the source near their food, the birds can usually get a bit before it freezes over. For hard-core bird fans, you can even purchase bird baths that have electric heaters built-in to keep the water from freezing! 

Keep Natural Shelters In Place

Finally, providing a bit of protection for winter birds is a great way to keep them secure, safe and warm. Just like all animals ( and humans too), birds need protection from the harsh elements of winter.

best feed birds in the winter
Leaving ornamental grasses up through winter helps provide extra protection for birds. When the snow mounts, grasses and shrubs are among the last few places they can seek refuge.

One of the easiest ways to do this is to leave nature’s natural plant protection in place through the winter months. Resist cutting back and pruning ornamental grasses, shrubs, bushes and other perennials until spring.

These areas are the perfect place for birds to find shelter when snow and ice have all but covered their normal nesting and resting places. So get those bird feeders in place, and help our feathered friends survive this winter with ease!

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