When natural food supplies decrease as temperatures drop, your bird feeders will become much more popular with birds. Winter is the time to stock up on the foods that birds will seek out, especially foods that offer the most calories. These high fat foods will give birds plenty of energy to build the fat reserves needed to survive the long, cold winter nights.
The easiest food to offer in your bird feeders is black oil sunflower seeds. They will attract a very wide range of birds and can easily be offered in many kinds of bird feeders. Hopper bird feeders are especially well designed for winter feeding because they have a roof to protect the seed from rain and snow and the hoppers are usually large enough to hold a few days’ supply of seed. This is especially useful during stormy weather when none of us want to go outside to fill bird feeders. Tube bird feeders will also do a good job of protecting seed but platform bird feeders are so exposed to the elements that they are much more useful during the spring and summer months. If you don’t want to have the mess of empty shells under the bird feeders, sunflower chips can certainly be used. Birds absolutely love them. However, they are much more expensive.
The most important consideration for winter bird feeding is to offer foods with high calorie or oil content…
Another important food to offer is suet. Suet is simply rendered fat that is often mixed with peanut chips, corn meal or other ingredients. It offers the highest calorie content and doesn’t have any melting issues during the winter. As the temperatures drop and the nights get longer, suet becomes an important food source. Many people use recipes to make their own suet for birds, but suet cakes can be purchased very inexpensively and are easily offered in suet bird feeders that are designed especially to hold suet cakes.
All finches adore nyjer seed, a very small, rather expensive, dark colored seed. Because of its size, this seed should be offered only in a thistle (nyjer) bird feeder. This is bird feeder with either very small ports or made of a mesh screening. If this seed is put in a regular bird feeder, the waste will be huge as these small seeds fall out or blow away. Nyjer is also an oily seed that offers a high fat content.
The most important consideration for winter bird feeding is to offer foods with high calorie or oil content to provide abundant energy for winter survival. Although black oil sunflower seeds, suet cakes and nyjer seed are the easiest and best choices, hulled peanuts and peanut butter are also good offerings. Keep your bird feeders full this winter and enjoy the many feathered friends visiting your yard to fill up on the nutritious foods that help them survive the harshest winter conditions.