Three Easy Fall Bird Feeding Tips to Get More Species

The days are getting shorter and boatloads of snow will soon fall, if it already hasn’t started in your neck of the woods. Fall is a fantastic time to get into bird feeding because birds are starting to stockpile and build up energy for the winter. They rely more on feeders in the fall and winter, when natural food dies off and becomes more sparse.

You can take a few steps to help them survive and thrive until the weather warms up in the spring. Here are three tips I share with people when they ask me about bird feeding in the fall.

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1. Stock up and Feed Birds High-Fat Treats (The Big Three)

When the temperature dips, your feathered friends will appreciate foods high in fats and protein. For this, turn to the fall and winter big three bird foods: Black oil sunflower seed, suet, and peanut bits. These are the essentials I like to offer this time of year. Northern Cardinals, Chickadees, Blue Jays, Nuthatches, Woodpeckers, and Finches will all enjoy this blend of high-energy foods.

If you’re starting from scratch, black oil sunflower seed will appeal to the widest variety of birds and tends to be one of the more affordable bird seed varieties. A tube, tray, or hopper feeder are all great options for offering sunflower seed. I tend to offer a hopper, suet and tube feeder outside of my apartment.

My Birdseed Pick: Meadow Ridge Farms Black Oil Sunflower Bird Seed

A picture of my birdseed pick: Meadow Ridge Farms Black Oil Sunflower Bird Seed
Meadow Ridge bird seed is awesome. It’s affordable in bulk and doesn’t have fillers like milo. Love this stuff.

I love suet for bird feeding. It’s a simple way to draw in woodpeckers on the regular. Suet is made of hardened animal fat, making it an appealing energy source for birds in the fall and winter.

Suet is also cheap. It costs $1 to $5 for a cake of it, which usually lasts me for a couple of weeks. You can also buy suet logs for a tree log feeder. The cheapest and easiest way to offer suet is with blocks in a suet cage.

My Suet Pick: C&S No Melt Suet Dough Delights for Wild Birds

A picture of My Suet Pick: C&S No Melt Suet Dough Delights for Wild Birds
I like these suet cakes because they hold up in all weather and aren’t as messy and gross compared to other suet cakes. Peanut flavored suet is always a hit with my birds too.

Peanuts are high in protein and fat – both essential and important for birds in the winter. It’s quickly become one of my favorites to offer to birds this time of year. I have the highest variety and number of birds at my station when I’m offering peanut bits in a separate feeder.

Note: Buying regular peanuts at your grocery store won’t work for bird feeding. The peanuts we eat tend to have salt and oils that are no bueno for our feathered friends.

My Peanuts Pick: Lyric Peanut Pieces

A picture of My Peanuts Pick on Amazon: Lyric Peanut Pieces
These are great for a no-waste peanut bird seed offering.

2. Buy a Heated Bird Bath

Late fall bird feeding tip - buy a heated bird bath! Pictured here is a red Northern Cardinal stopping at a bird bath in the winter.
If you have a regular bird bath, be sure you keep it as thawed as possible!

Want to know the secret to attracting more birds to your yard? It’s not about food. Focus on offering water in a bird bath.

A heated bird bath is especially welcome when it’s cold out and lakes/ponds are frozen. Open water is hard to come by!

Also, you don’t need to worry about birds bathing in a bird bath during the winter and freezing. They’re smart enough to know that water is strictly for drinking in the harsh cold.

Related Content: 5 Proven Ways to Attract Cardinals to a Feeder

3. Clean Your Bird Feeders

bird, bird feeder, wildlife - A male House Finch at a seed bird feeder.
Keeping your feeders clean can help prevent birds like House Finches from getting eye diseases.

Now is a great time to clean your bird feeders (and bird baths) before the long winter season. The Cornell Bird Lab recommends you continue cleaning them every two weeks. Here are the quick steps:

1. Take your bird feeders apart

2. Scrub them out with hot water and dish soap

3. Rinse thoroughly

4. Soak your feeder in a 9 part water, one part bleach solution (for wooden feeders: use vinegar instead of beach)

5. Rinse thoroughly again

6. Allow the feeder to air dry

Related Content: How to Save Money While Bird Feeding

Remember, you should be cleaning your feeders every few weeks year-round to keep things presentable and disease-free for your birds.

With these three tips, you’re sure to draw in and help a lot of birds when they need your help the most. Now you can enjoy the beauty of nature while staying warm indoors this winter.

Sources and further reading:

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources


Project Feeder Watch

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