Keeping our Feathered Friends Happy – Especially in the Winter

Cardinals are a common sight at winter bird feeders. These are commonly ground feeders and can pick up what other birds have discarded.

Birds are amazing – and if you read my previous winter bird blog, you’ll know that birds can definitely take care of themselves, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t feed them and give them a little help! After all, just because I can cook for myself and know how to grow a veggie garden and preserve the food for later, doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate it when someone else provides food for me! Free food is great and making sure you set up a feeder or plant native plants will be helping birds in winter.

Bird Diets

Birds are the same. Some birds, like orioles, will migrate to warmer climates to follow their food source. Others, like Chickadees, will switch their diets from insects to seeds. Some birds, like Robins, will eat on fruits like Holly and Juniper berries – but again, if there’s free food, they’ll take advantage of it!

Different types of birds like different seeds. Woodpeckers and Nuthatches are very into suet blocks, while other birds are into sunflower seeds, and others yet are into fruits!

The How To’s of Bird Feeding

Putting out seed for birds is a great thing to do in the winter months, however, I recommend slowing down your feeding and eventually stopping for late spring/early summer. This gives adult birds a chance to teach their young where to go and how to forage for food. Once the temperatures fall again and food becomes harder to come by (typically around October), slowly start to put the seed back out.

Remember, birds can forage for food themselves, but will stick around and visit you if you provide the food to be helping birds in winter! A diverse range of foods will attract a diverse range of birds.

As the temperatures drop, seeds that are higher in calories will become more important. If you’re purchasing seed, check the back for something that looks like :

Ingredients: Grain Products, Sunflower, Calcium Carbonate, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement

Guaranteed Analysis: Crude Protein (min)… 7.5% Crude Fat (min)… 5.5% Crude Fiber (max)… 7.0% Moisture (max)… 12.5%

Native Plants for Birds in Winter

On top of putting out seed, a great idea is to turn your yard into a winter bird paradise! Planting American Holly, Winterberry Holly, Eastern Red Cedars, Viburnums, Flowering Dogwood, Crabapples, Red-osier Dogwoods, Pine, Beautyberry, and Chokeberries are great ways to ensure that there is cold-weather food around (this list is specific to Southeastern PA. Click here for Natives in your area!).

helping birds in winter by planting sumac
Sumac trees are great ways to add color to your yard while feeding birds. They grow large, reddish-brown spikes of seeds in the spring/early summer that will stick around into the winter, and their orange fall foliage is absolutely stunning!

Support & Love Birds!

Want birds in your life, but don’t have the ability to put up feeders or just want some more diversity? Bring them inside by ordering a print or bird-themed stickers today! A portion of all proceeds goes back towards wildlife conservation efforts, so you’ll be helping birds in winter.

Supporting The Art of Ecology through the online shop or by becoming a Patron at any tier on Patreon can help keep educational content coming!

1 Comments on “Keeping our Feathered Friends Happy – Especially in the Winter”

  1. Pingback: Creating a Safe Haven for Feathered Friends – The Art of Ecology

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