We keep bird feeders out year round, which means we have hundreds of sparrows hidden in our yard at any given time. While I know they're not native, it's still fun having them around and we do our best to attract native birds as well. In the winter, those bird feeders get a workout. In addition to keeping the feeders stocked, there's a few additional things you can do to make sure your birds have everything they need when the seasons change.
Feeders and Placement
When choosing feeders for the winter, look for something that has a cover to prevent snow, ice and melt from entering the feeder. Any moisture will contaminate the birdseed which could ultimately make your flock of friends sick. The birds also seem to appreciate an area that is covered from the elements when dining. If you have the opportunity to place your feeders under an overhang or other sheltered area, it makes maintaining them much easier.
Our birds favorite feed is a northwest blend that includes seeds and nuts to provide our flock with lots of protein in their diet. We feed this year round, but that added protein and fat helps the birds thrive when the temperatures drop.
In addition to a birdseed mix, we set out black oil sunflowers in an effort to attract native birds. Last year we had a flicker arrive, which was super fun to see!
In addition to birdseed, the outdoor birds love snacks (just like my other pets!). Below are some of our favorites!
You can buy suet in the birdseed aisle in blocks, which can be placed around in dry areas, or hung in suet holders. This is a year round favorite but gets devoured in the winter. Suet contains fat that birds need to stay warm, and this is a virtually pure source of fat for them to consume. We tend to purchase the largest suet blocks available since they go so fast, but the smaller ones are great to distribute around your space. In addition, if you're feeling crafty, you can make your own suet at home!
Peanut Butter Pinecones
If you want a fun project that also provides some fun, natural food for the birds - peanut butter pinecones are great! Find some pinecones, spread peanut butter on them and roll in birdseed. Attach a string and hang from your trees and bushes!
Birds LOVE bugs, all crazy kinds of bugs. We set out freeze dried mealworms for our crew, which they devour. You can purchase these at virtually any feed store and set out in bowls or mix with your bird seed.
Beyond food and snacks, birds need liquid water year round and it is hard to come by when the mercury gets below freezing. If you're able to provide your backyard flock with some form of water, either with a fancy heated bird bath, a heated dog bowl, or dedication to swap out water dishes every couple of hours. They'll appreciate your efforts.
What are your favorite treats to leave out for your wild flock? I'd love to hear in the comments!