You’re bundled up warm from head to toe, ready to greet the season’s snow … but, what about the birds? This pretty time is also the season during which backyard birds need your help the most.
Why is winter backyard bird feeding so important?
1. Natural seed sources are depleted in winter
Because many of the natural seed sources that birds prefer flower in summer (i.e., sunflowers), winter’s an especially tough time to find naturally-occurring food. Even if seed is available, winter winds often blow away food or excess moisture makes that food inedible. The days are shorter, too, so there’s less time to spend looking for food.
2. Extra feeding helps them prepare for spring mating
When birds have access to more nutrients in winter, the spring mating season will be more successful. Chicks will have healthier weights, and egg laying will happen earlier.
3. Food types are limited, and birds need extra calories
In summer, backyard birds have a smorgasbord of foods to eat – insects, fruits, and abundant seeds. In winter, insects and fruits are nowhere to be found. While some birds migrate, the birds that don’t adjust their diet from fruit and insects to seeds.
4. Predators are extra hungry, too
When food’s harder for our feathered friends to find, it’s harder for squirrels, mice, raccoons, and stray cats to find, too. Help protect birds by placing food sources near safe brush or other natural coverage to keep birds fed while offering a place to hide.
5. Water sources are frozen
Offer running water to birds – it’s near-impossible to find on freezing winter days, and water is just as important as food. You’ll find that offering water in a heated bath makes your backyard the place to be for your favorite backyard birds.
The best things to feed backyard birds in winter
The best foods to provide backyard birds during this tough time are foods with high fat and oil content. These foods will give them enough energy to make it through the winter with happy bellies:
- Black oil sunflower
- Nyjer seed
- Suet mixes with fruit or seeds, i.e.:
- Peanut butter
- Nutritious seed mixes with white millet
Want more backyard birding advice? Check out our backyard birding winter checklist to make sure you’re prepared for the season. And, if you’re looking for seed and feeders for backyard birding, our selection is second-to-none.