The winter months are here! For some, the outdoors become a snowy winter wonderland. For others, temperatures drop but there is not much change from spring or fall months. One thing that remains constant despite your local climate is birds needing food and water. Backyard birding experts know that winter is a critical time to feed the birds. These feathered friends of ours are looking for resources that are sparse in the winter, and fresh water that has likely frozen.
It is important to feed birds all winter long, providing an oasis for all species, whether migratory or not. Use this backyard birding winter checklist to prepare and maintain your yard throughout the season. The birds will thank you!
Add Extra Feeders to Your YardNew species migrating down from the north will be looking for food and water after a long trip. Both the non-migratory birds that stay in your yard all year long and these new species will be looking for food at your feeders. Add more feeders to help keep up with the high demand. You’ll likely go through more seed when flocks of species come through.
Fill Feeders DailyYou might see the same birds year-round if you have non-migratory birds like cardinals or woodpeckers. These birds will know their favorite feeders and rely on them for food to survive winter. Make sure your feeders are filled every day so your birds can get their daily source of energy and nutrition needed to flourish during cold winters.
Include High-Protein FoodUse bird food like Nyjer, black oil sunflower seed, and suet. These high-protein seeds and food will offer birds the necessary energy to stay warm all winter long. By putting out Nyjer, you can attract American Goldfinches and watch for the feathers to start changing colors from their winter grey-green to the bright yellow in spring.
Wipe Snow Off Feeders DailyIf you live in an area of the U.S. that gets snow, sleet, and ice accumulation, it’s important to rid feeders of this moisture. The buildup of cold elements can block birds from finding your feeders. The seeds can also go bad if the moisture from these elements gets into the feeder.
Change Out Seed and Suet FrequentlyAs mentioned, winter weather can create moisture in feeders. To keep your birds safe, change out any seed that has gotten wet and might have rotted. It is important to make sure your seed is safe for the birds so they don’t get sick during the harsh winter months.
Offer Running Water or Heated Bird BathsThe last and probably most important item to check off your winter birding checklist is a water source. In areas where temperatures drop below freezing, open water can be hard for birds to find. They look for this essential resource, which means you’re more likely to attract birds if you offer running water. The best way to keep water from freezing is by having a heated water source. Heated fountains or bird baths are low-maintenance options that the birds will appreciate. Birds prefer shallow water, about 2-3 inches deep. An alternative option for birders who do not have the ability to offer a heated source is to pour fresh, warm water into bird baths daily. This helps remove any ice buildup and provides temporary water.
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