Feeding Wild Birds in Winter
Migration is how many birds deal with the colder temperatures. Those beautiful specimens we cherish seeing, every year move on to warmer climates where the food remains abundant. However, many wild bird species stick around all winter long. Yes, I know they are animals and can take care of themselves. There is no reason we can’t help them along and enjoy their antics all winter long.
Having fresh, unfrozen water available all winter is probably the best way to keep the wild birds active in your backyard. Keeping the water from freezing is by no means an easy task. The important thing is to keep the birdbath shallow enough for the birds. Many birdbaths will have very steep sides. Our instinct will be to fill it up to the brim. However, most birds will avoid deep water. Try keeping the water at about ½ inch depth. This way the birds can stand in the bowl on the edge of the water and drink without getting too far into the water. You can also use a low voltage birdbath deicer. These deicers are designed to turn on only when the temperatures get close to freezing so that the water will not freeze over.
Food is vital for local birds. The type of food can make a big difference when attracting wild birds during the winter. Birdseed can be offered all year, in the winter it is a good idea to switch to seed with higher amounts of fat and proteins. Nyjer thistle and black oil sunflower seed are both high in fat and protein and will attract more birds. It is a good idea to clean your tube feeders out every few weeks, as the extra moisture can cause the seed to spoil faster. An excellent alternative to tube feeders is a seed block. These are a lot of fun to have around, as the birds will continuously push each other out of the way to get a spot. Fruit and suet cakes are also great ways to provide extra energy and variety to the diet of birds in your area.