Must Know Why and How To Feed Birds in Winter


As winter approaches, many bird enthusiasts begin to worry about how their feathered friends will fare in the harsh conditions. But feeding birds in winter doesn’t have to be a daunting task. With a bit of knowledge and preparation, you can create a winter haven that not only helps birds survive but also brings you tremendous joy and satisfaction. Here’s your comprehensive guide to mastering winter bird feeding with top tips and tricks. This post contains all you must know about why and how to feed birds in winter.

Facts about the bird-feeding movement

The bird-feeding movement globally traces back to 1890. Ornithological and nature conservation societies worldwide emphasize that birds are not fed for survival, as they can sustain themselves without human assistance. The primary goal is the unique experience of observing approximately fifty potential bird species visiting feeders for personal enjoyment. However, it is strongly advised not to feed waterfowl on a large scale, as it may lead to their mass destruction.

The activity at feeders globally depends on the severity, thickness, and durability of winter and snow cover. In mild winters, the number of bird species and individuals visiting feeders is often only half or a third of the usual amount. Recommended winter foods for songbirds include sunflower seeds, apples (placed on branches or scattered on the ground), and berries (grape, ivy, firethorn, hawthorn) along with animal fat (lard, unsalted bacon cooked without salt, suet, tit dumplings). Providing any other food is unnecessary and risky for birds, as emphasized in the statement.

winter bird feeding Must Know Why And How To Feed Birds In Winter
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While winter feeding benefits songbirds globally, feeding waterfowl on a large scale can endanger, sicken, and lead to the demise of the animals, a global concern addressed by authorities and conservation organizations. The statement highlights that severe frosts globally, such as those experienced in 2016/2017, revealed the need for discussing the topic to protect both birds and people.

The lifestyle of waterfowl fundamentally differs from songbirds that visit traditional feeders. Feeding poses a life-threatening risk for waterfowl as it disrupts migratory behavior crucial for winter survival, leading to mass freezing. It increases crowding, aggression among birds, the risk of injuries, and the spread of infectious diseases. Mass interaction also poses a risk to humans, particularly concerning avian influenza. Continuous feeding with bread can make birds ill, with “angel wing disease” causing complete flightlessness in young birds, as mentioned in the statement. Further information on the topic is available on the following page.

Understanding the Winter Needs of Birds

To effectively assist our feathered friends during winter, we first need to comprehend their specific needs during these frosty months. Birds face a particularly challenging time during winter as they require additional energy to maintain warmth and combat potential illnesses. Their typical diet consisting of insects and berries tends to dwindle during this season, making it more difficult for them to access nutrition. Besides food, finding water that isn’t frozen can be a struggle for these little creatures. Safe havens to rest and steer clear of predators also become crucial during this period. So, by proactively offering a consistent supply of food and water, along with a safe space to seek refuge, you can be instrumental in easing their winter hardships. Your backyard can indeed transform into a winter oasis for these birds, helping them survive and thrive amidst the harsh winter months.

Setting up Your Winter Bird Feeding Station

Imagine your backyard as a bustling, feather-filled diner during winter. Now, let’s make that imagination a reality! Your bird feeding station’s location is key, so select a spot that’s sheltered yet visible from your cozy indoors. This allows you to monitor the feeders for any potential predators while also enjoying the chirpy visitors. Proximity to trees or shrubs would be ideal, providing your feathered guests with natural escape routes when necessary.

Feeder variety is the spice of bird life. Tube feeders are excellent for petite seed nibblers. In contrast, platform feeders appeal to the larger, ground-feeding birds that prefer a solid landing spot. Don’t forget the insect-loving birds, too – a suet feeder will have them flocking to your backyard in no time!

Remember, your backyard bird diner’s success isn’t measured by the quantity of birds it attracts, but by the variety of species it caters to. So, embrace diversity, keep it safe, and enjoy the flurry of feathers this winter!

Choosing the Right Bird Food for Winter

When winter’s chill hits, our winged friends require a diet rich in energy and fats to stay warm and healthy. This is where your role as a backyard birdie chef comes into play! The secret ingredient is variety. Think black oil sunflower seeds, a crowd favorite, bursting with high energy. Then, toss in some peanuts for a nutritious treat packed with essential fats and protein.

Sunflower seeds-Must Know Why And How To Feed Birds In Winter

And for the dessert course? Suet, a pure fat substance, is a delectable birdie delicacy during winter, providing the extra calories they need to maintain body heat. As for the bird species that fancy themselves as bug connoisseurs, cater to their palate with delicious mealworms.

Sprinkle in some cracked corn and millet to add more flavor to your birdie buffet. These seeds are particularly loved by ground-feeding birds. Just remember, while bread might seem like a handy choice, it’s the equivalent of junk food for birds, offering minimal nutritional value. So, leave the bread out of your bird-feeding menu.

By dishing out a variety of these winter-friendly foods, you’re not only offering a lifeline to various bird species but also inviting a lively, chirpy fiesta right in your backyard. Enjoy the spectacle!

Keeping the Feeders Clean and Ice-Free

Another thing you must know about feeding birds in winter is that maintaining hygiene at your backyard bird diner is as important as keeping your kitchen spotless. Ensuring feeders are clean not only guarantees a healthier feeding experience for your avian guests but also prevents the spread of bird diseases. To achieve this, incorporate a routine of scrubbing your feeders with a mix of warm, soapy water. Rinse them thoroughly and let them dry entirely before refilling. This helps to wash away any remnants of old seeds, mold, or droppings that may be harmful to birds.

Winter brings with it the challenge of freezing temperatures, which can ice up your feeders, making it difficult for birds to access the food. Heated bird feeders or bird bath de-icers can be a game-changer in such scenarios, keeping your feed constantly available and free from ice.

However, if heated options aren’t within your reach, fret not. A smart solution can be positioning your feeders in an area that’s sheltered from the wind, as this can significantly reduce the chances of freezing. In addition, frequent refills can also ensure the seeds do not freeze solid, allowing your feathered friends to dine at ease.

Remember, in winter, your backyard feeders may be the lifeline for many bird species, and clean, ice-free feeders can make a substantial difference. So, roll up your sleeves and get ready to play your part in creating a welcoming and safe winter haven for your winged neighbors. The chirpy gratitude you’ll receive in return is priceless!

Providing Liquid Water for Birds in Winter

Keeping our feathered friends hydrated during winter’s chill is just as critical as keeping them well-fed. Birds require consistent access to liquid water for both drinking and maintaining their plumage hygiene – a task that can become challenging when the freezing temperatures turn all sources into ice.

Heated bird baths offer a fantastic solution to this icy predicament, ensuring a steady supply of unfrozen water. If you can’t incorporate a heated bath, don’t worry – you can still play the hero! Get into a daily habit of gently cracking open the ice that forms on your regular bird bath, or refresh it with warm water periodically throughout the day. This simple act can make a massive difference to the survival and well-being of your backyard visitors during the harsh winter months.

Wonderful DIY Bird Feeders

With just a few ingredients, you can easily create a homemade bird feeder that will be joyfully visited by our feathered friends during the cold weather. Winter is a challenging time for birds, as it becomes difficult for them to find food in the snow and frost. Nevertheless, many birds, especially those living north of us, spend their winter with us, and they will appreciate every small bite we offer.

Creating bird feeders at home can be a fantastic shared activity, especially for families with children. You don’t need special skills, just a bit of handiness, a few handy tools, and some basic materials. Bird feeders can be made from plastic bottles, milk cartons, or even tin cans. Examples of such easily crafted feeders can be found in our previous selection. However, with the help of a drill, you can create decorative pieces, as shown in the image below. All you need is a perforated flowerpot saucer and two saucer supports. Drill a hole in the center of the supports for threading the wire used for suspension. Make holes in the sides of the pot so the birds can access the food. Fit the supports under and over the pot, then suspend the feeder using the wire.

a bird perched on a bird feeder-Must Know Why And How To Feed Birds In Winter
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Other Ideas on How To Feed Birds in Winter

A bird feeder can also be effortlessly made from a tree trunk. Simply drill a hole in the middle of the trunk and insert the bird feed. Of course, with the help of a saw, you can build more elaborate birdhouses, but we recommend this for experienced DIY enthusiasts. If you’re not in the mood for drilling, you can create a feeder using orange peels. Remove the insides, pierce the peel in two different places with a skewer, tie string to the sticks, and knot them. This way, you can easily hang this fragrant bird feeder variation anywhere you like.”

DIY bird feeder orange-Must Know Why And How To Feed Birds In Winter
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Playing an Active Role in Bird Conservation

Winter bird feeding is more than a backyard hobby—it’s a means of contributing to bird conservation. By setting up bird feeders and birdbaths, you’re offering essential support to local bird species during a challenging season, contributing to their survival and growth. But why stop there? Extend your love for avian life by getting involved in citizen science initiatives. Participate in fun and insightful projects like the Great Backyard Bird Count or Project FeederWatch. These programs offer an exciting avenue to contribute to larger scientific efforts. They aid researchers in tracking bird population trends and migration patterns. Not only does this amplify your bird-feeding efforts on a global scale, but it also offers you a deeper understanding and connection with the bird world. So, why not leap from being a bird enthusiast to a bird conservationist this winter? It’s as simple as counting the birds that visit your feeders.

Embracing the Joy and Benefits of Winter Bird Feeding

Winter bird feeding is a pastime that goes beyond merely providing sustenance for our feathered friends. It’s an activity that draws out joy, peace, and a profound connection to nature, even in the frostiest of months. Observing the intricate behaviors and marveling at the diverse beauty of the birds fluttering about your backyard provide you with a unique opportunity right at your doorstep. It’s an engaging spectacle that can easily turn into a fulfilling hobby or an inspiring subject for your photography pursuits.

But the benefits of winter bird feeding don’t stop there. It’s a wonderful, hands-on way to teach children about the wonders of nature and the significant role we play in its conservation. It fosters a sense of responsibility and cultivates an appreciation for wildlife in the young and the young-at-heart alike. And who knows? This winter hobby might just inspire the next generation of ornithologists, bird photographers, or conservationists! As you revel in the delightful chorus of chirps this winter, remember, that you’re not only aiding bird survival but also creating a memorable and enriching experience for yourself and those around you. So bundle up, prepare your feeders, and enjoy the rewarding journey of winter bird feeding!

Start And Enjoy Your Birding Journey Today!

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