The colder it gets outside, the more wild birds in your area depend on you for food. Seeds and fats are crucial energy sources for them as they try to remain warm. What you give and how you give it matters, though, if you want to help these feathered friends this winter.
Focus on Seeds and Fatty Foods
Look for suet that contains fat and seeds for high-energy foods. Suet mixes animal fat with foods birds love, like black oil sunflower seeds, cracked corn, berries, and pieces of peanuts.
Regular mixed birdseed is fine for most of the year, but wild birds need more energy to generate body warmth during the winter. Suet can give them the extra nutrition and fat to get them through the winter.
Put Out Plenty of Feeders
During the warm months, wild birds eat as they go. They may store food for hatchlings in the spring but having food on hand is less of an issue.
Winter, though, brings extra challenges. One bad storm might keep them snowbound in an icy nest for days. They will stock up on food when they see it to protect themselves.
Putting out multiple feeders ensures they have ample food during snow and ice storms. It will also protect them during the long, cold winter nights.
Suet is easy to use, especially during the cold season and suet feeders are more compact, so they offer better protection from the weather to keep feed safe for the birds when they can get to it.
Don’t Forget the Water
Even when surrounded by ice and snow, birds may become dehydrated in the winter. Placing a pan of water near the feeder on warmer days is a fantastic idea. Water is a valuable resource because their other sources ice over. You might even consider putting up a heated birdbath or putting a hanging one close to your door, so it is more accessible. This will make water available to the birds all winter long.
Also, keep the area around the water and suet feeders clear the same way you would your sidewalks. This ensures the wild birds can quickly get to what you offer them.
Beware of Cats
Feral cats will be out looking for food, too. Place bird feeders in areas that do not provide hiding spots for cats and other predators.
Consider positioning the feeders ten to twelve feet away from bushes or brush piles. This allows the birds time to respond.
Keep the Feeders Clean
Birds can be a little messy, so don’t neglect your feeders just because it is cold outside. Go out with some hot water and wash them down and then dry them off, so they don’t become icy.
Finally, be consistent with your feeding. Birds will come to rely on you to provide them with water and nutrition during harsh weather.