Wild birds need the same berries, fruits, nuts, and seeds that they enjoy throughout the summer in order to use a bird feeder throughout the winter.
In the winter, the typical suspects will feed at your bird feeder if you have colorful, hanging seed, nut, and suet bird feeders. Instead of shaking snow off or replacing bird feed as often if it freezes over, just stick to the tried-and-true wintertime staples that are sure to be depleted.
Bringing common backyard birds to bird feeders in the winter is very similar to luring them to your yard in the summer.
Seed blends, peanuts, and a selection of fruit and nut-based suet cakes and fat balls should be stocked up on before autumn arrives.
The reason for this is that during the winter, wild birds often resort to eating their favorite foods, such as suet to replace lost fat, and peanuts or seeds to supply energy with protein and allow them to continue foraging.
Although berries and small fruits cannot be placed inside a bird feeder, they can be stacked neatly on a platform feeder to provide birds with a wintertime source of nutrition.
Bluebirds are often observed gorging on berries and other tiny fruits in the winter, and like other birds, they also eat seeds, nuts, and insects all year long.
And that’s the thing: while you can put nuts, seeds, and suet in the designated bird feeder, everything else has to go on top of the platform feeder, whether it’s mounted on a pole, dangles from the ceiling, or sits on the ground.
The platform bird feeder is essential if you want to attract Bluebirds and other birds to your yard, as they are unable to use the more conventional feeders.
In the winter, you have to deal with snow and possibly below-freezing temperatures.
Maintaining access to bird food in heavy snow requires constant intervention, such as shaking off the snow that has accumulated on feeders.
Reduce the amount of bird food you put out at once, and always replace it if snow falls over it. This is especially important for bird feeders and dishes with open platforms on top.
Keep bird seed accessible at all times, even when the temperature outside drops.
When temperatures drop below freezing, it’s not worth the effort to keep bird food from spoiling; instead, just replace it with fresh food every few hours.
Default to winter favorite foods
Since we are well into the fall and winter seasons now, birds’ normal feeding habit, which is carried over from the wild, requires the usage of fall and winter staples.
That’s significant because birds need diets that are both high in fat and high in energy to make it through the colder, harsher winter months.
Seeds and peanuts can still be used in bird feeders, and fatty suet cakes or autumn balls can be added for variety.
Sparrows, Chickadees, Warblers, Wrens, Grackles, Indigo Buntings, Finches, Nuthatches, Steller’s Jays, Tufted Titmice, and many Woodpeckers are just some of the birds that will consume seeds if they are available.
It is possible that woodpeckers, which are among the wild birds that will eat peanuts and other nut mixes for birds, will be the primary consumers of these foods over the winter, as woodpeckers are known to hoard nuts and seeds collected from feeders in the autumn.
And of the nuts, seeds, or suet, with occasional dried mealworms utilized, do add them to their appreciate feeders; birds will use your feeders if the food is always there.
Offering dried mealworms and, especially, dried fruits from an open top platform bird feeder may be the only way to lure birds to your feeder during winter. To which you may add the option of supplying fresh, little fruits if you so desire.
Keep in mind that some common backyard birds may not be able to manage a little, difficult-to-access bird feeder, so it’s best to provide a wide-open platform feeder instead.
Dazzling bird feeders in dull days
As you might expect, the gloomy, damp, and cold days of autumn and winter will be accompanied by an increase in cloud cover.
The presence of bright, colorful bird feeders to attract birds with ornate, dazzling bird feeders is appropriate in this kind of dreary setting in your backyard.
When the ground is covered in snow or ice, it is extremely helpful for birds to be able to see a bright red, green, or blue bird feeder from above.
Birds can be attracted to a feeder with the help of color, so feeders in a variety of vivid hues are recommended.
Contrary to popular belief, I do not think that brightly colored wild bird food exists; instead, I recommend using colorful bird feeders, which can have a significant effect.
OK Actually finding a brilliantly colored bird feeder in a store that can hold seeds, peanuts, or suet is something I can’t even fathom. If you want to attract birds, you can paint a pole with a platform on it and hang or mount it outside.
Only stainless steel feeders with their shiny surfaces or those with only a few patches of vivid green can hope to attract birds.
Remove snow on feeders
Obviously, if bird feeders are permitted to become buried in snow, it will be useless to provide a variety of winter treats to attract birds.
In the winter, snow or even freezing weather can make all bird feeders invisible, so you’ll need to keep being proactive to attract birds to them.
Snow can accumulate on port holes of seed tube feeders or enter wire feeders via the mesh wire, but it will generally pass over hanging bird feeders for seeds or nuts.
There’s not much you can do when it snows for days on end, but it doesn’t hurt to go outside and brush off the snow every so often.
All that work to attract birds in the winter is for naught if the feeder is covered in snow and the birds can’t get to it.
Open-top platform feeders will require more frequent maintenance as the bird food will be buried in snow within hours.
When dealing with open-top bird feeders, use fewer nuts or seeds and replace the food around once every few hours because the previous additions are now buried under an inch or so of snow.
Maintain your best snow removal efforts to keep birds from becoming hungry because of blocked feeders.
Because of the added weight, a bird feeder might easily topple if too much snow accumulates on top of it.
Maintain bird feed in cold
If you want birds to visit your feeder during the day and every week from now until spring, you’ll need to keep the food out.
Because of the snow, wild birds have a hard time finding food because their normal food sources are either buried by the snow or their feeding grounds are frozen solid.
Even though snow will be a major problem for many people in snowy states this winter, remember that frost, and more specifically ice, will make bird feed unavailable.
When temperatures drop below freezing, bird food like seeds, nuts, and suet can freeze solid. Some birds may still be able to eat this food, while others may have difficulty cracking it.
Then, you’d have to keep an eye on your bird food around the clock to make sure it stays at the same consistency and firmness that the birds are used to eating it at.
Of course, I realize that is out of the question for many of you, but you can overcome this problem if you prepare for the inevitable disposal of unnecessary materials.
When bad weather hits, fewer birds will come to feed, leading to wasted food in feeders. To counter this, only fill bird feeders halfway, and keep adding fresh food at least twice daily.
The idea is that if the bird food is constantly being replenished every few hours, it won’t get hard as fast.
Only the birds’ preferred winter food, such as seeds, nuts, and suet cakes or fat balls, will entice them to your feeder this season.
Wild bird food at the bird feeders is necessary because birds expend more energy foraging in the winter, necessitating fat and energy storage.
The wire mesh bird feeder can still hold peanuts, so there’s no need to replace the hanging clear plastic tube feeder for usage with seeds.
In addition to other types of nuts, the Blue Jay and Steller’s Jay enjoy peanuts still in their shells.
You can hang a suet cake or fat ball in their usual cage feeder, but make sure to protect it from the snow as much as possible.
That’s why it’s important to provide the little fruits, berries, and insects that wild birds eat in the winter when they’re in your backyard.
Since it would be impractical to put that that food in a covered feeder, and since many species of birds aren’t welcome there either, you’ll need to break out the open-topped platform feeder.
Alternatively, you can use a wire mesh bird feeder dish that you hang from a tree branch, mount on a wall, or place on a bird feeding station.
Because bird seed exposed to the environment can be buried by a layer of snow, it is your responsibility to replenish the seed supply and keep doing so for as long as the seed is still accessible.
Similarly, bird feeders can become completely covered in snow throughout the winter, so it’s important to periodically check on them and shake off the excess snow to keep it from settling onto perches and blocking sightlines.