The days are getting shorter and boatloads of snow will soon fall (if it already hasn’t started in your neck of the woods). Late fall bird feeding is great because birds are starting to stockpile and build up energy for the winter. They rely most-heavily 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.
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 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.
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.
2. Buy a Heated Bird Bath
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.
3. Clean Your Bird Feeders
Now is a great time to clean your bird feeders 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
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.
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