Why (and what) you should feed the birds and squirrels through the winter

Isn’t it nice watching beautiful birds gather and forage on your yard? You will attract more birds and keep them through the season if you help them out. Whether bird watching is a year round hobby or just something to pass the long days trapped indoors by the cold, these tips will help you bring more birds to your yard.

Some birds are picky eaters, and some will eat anything. You can feed a bagged mixed bird seed for convenience, or you can choose your feed to attract certain birds.

  • Black Oil Sunflower – The most common component in mixed bird food -and the most commonly preferred by birds- is black oil sunflower seeds. It attracts the widest range of birds including chickadees, finches, bluejays, titmice and cardinals.
  • Thistle Seed – Thistle seed is a tiny seed that attracts the smaller finches like golden and purple finches as well as siskins and redpolls.
  • White Milled – White Millet is a small round seed that is preferred by many of the ground feeding birds. It will attract sparrows, quail, doves, and cardinals.
  • Hulled Sunflower Seeds – Hulled sunflower seeds remove the requirement for birds to be able to crack shells, and make them easy to eat. They are not recommended if food would sit out for any length of time as they spoil quickly.
  • Cracked Corn – Cracked corn will appeal to sparrows, doves, quail, blackbirds, and bluejays.
  • Suet – Suet can be offered as an alternative to loose foods and adds the fun of watching the birds hang from it as they eat. Woodpeckers, titmice, and chickadees will all happily partake.
  • Peanuts and Other Nuts – Whether added to mixes or fed on their own, peanuts and other nuts are sure to be adored by many different birds. Woodpeckers, mockingjays, nuthatches, chickadees, and cardinals all adore nuts, and bluejays are particularly fond of peanuts in the shell.
  • Fruit – Although not a convenient option for daily feeding, your loving fans will appreciate fruit when it is available.

Most loose foods can be fed from tube or hopper feeders and they attract a variety of birds. These are available in a wide variety of designs. Some can dispense millet and thistle seed and some cannot, so check labels before buying. And the closer to your window you keep your feeders, the better view you will get.  Be cautious of where you place your feeder, as often the seeds will grow where they hit the ground.  having a specific area in your landscape that is designed for easy cleaning, or placing a tarp or plywood over the ground under the feeder will help to keep the area from becoming a forest of weeds in the spring.

If your chosen feeder cannot handle specialties or you are feeding only those, you will need a specific feeder for them slimming products. Thistle seed is fed from a tube of mesh or wire to dispense the tiny seeds, and peanuts and other nuts need a feeder designed for their larger size. Suet can be fed from wire baskets, or a mesh bag.

Tray feeders have the bonus of versatility as they can hold virtually anything, but they can create more waste -via spilling or contamination. Putting a tray feeder at a lower lever can substitute for those birds who are normally ground feeders.

A note on squirrels- it can be easier to end the battle and feed them too than to keep them out. Squirrels love peanuts, corn, and nuts. They will eat whole cobs of dry corn and just love hanging nut balls.

One important consideration is they everybody needs water, and it can be hard to get in winter. Whether you add a feeding water feature or a bowl, your friends will appreciate it.

Creating a bird friendly environment will also give you something to enjoy while sitting on the patio. If you would like to spruce up a space to enjoy before summer, we can help. Request an estimate today.