One of the easiest ways to see a variety of new bird species is to set up a bird feeder in your yard. There’s nothing better than looking out of your window to see a new species you haven’t seen before. The only question is, how do you continue attracting birds during the winter months, when many species of birds have flown elsewhere for the winter?
Different types of birds enjoy feeders at different heights, so catering to the winter species you may see is a step in the right direction. We’ve got you covered. Read on to find out more about how you can attract birds during the winter and our picks for the best bird feeders during winter.
In a hurry? This is our winner!
Best Bird Feeder for Winter Comparison Table
Best Bird Feeder for Winter – Reviews
Best Bird Feeder for Winter – Buyers Guide
Is my bird feeder going to be useful during winter?
Where you live has a big impact on the kind of birds you attract to your garden during the winter. Chances are no matter where you live you’ll manage to attract birds to your yard during the winter but they’ll vary to the ones you would typically get during the summer.
If you’re from North America, you could anticipate seeing some finches, sparrows, woodpeckers, jays and cardinals during the winter months. A lot of plants and insects that birds tend to feed on for the rest of the year aren’t around during the winter, so your bird feeder will be a valued source of nutrients for your feathered friends.
What should I look for when buying a winter bird feeder?
When looking for a bird feeder for the winter, your two biggest priorities need to be protecting the birds and the kinds of bird foods that will be contained in the feeder.
During the winter months, you should ensure that your bird feeders have covers over the food dispensing areas so that none of the food gets blown away or buried in the case of a storm or snow. This is mainly because wet bird food can become mouldy and is unhealthy for the birds. If you get a cover that goes around the edge of the feeder will protect it during a storm.
You can add baffles to the feeder in the case that you don’t already have a built-in cover with the feeder. You can also buy a baffle separately, and make one yourself.
You’ll need something fairly easy to clean. It’s easier for bird feeders to become dirty in the winter due to the build-up of ice and snow, so the seed will become worse in quality. The birds don’t really have many options of where to go for food during the winter either, so the feeder will likely generate more visitors, and thus making them dirtier. With this in mind, it’s worth looking for a model that’s easy to wipe and remove any spoilt food so the feeder doesn’t become moldy.
For a bird feeder for winter, it’s worth investing in a bird feeder with a large capacity. As previously mentioned, part of this comes down to the fact you’re likely to get more birds coming to the feeder during the winter months. Another factor to consider is that winter is, well, cold! You don’t really want to be going out constantly to refill the feeder when you’re in those lower temperatures.
Squirrels are real pests when it comes to bird feeders. They will, no doubt about it, come to raid your feeder of as much as it can without any remorse. You could use a bird feeder pole which has a baffle to stop squirrels. This will make it difficult for your little pesky neighborhood squirrel to get to the feeder. If you don’t already know, a baffle is a big, usually circular, object that’s placed on the pole to stop squirrels getting up.
Keep the feeder as far away as possible, ideally 10 feet at least away from any nearby tree trunks and branches. If the feeder is close to any trees it makes the baffle essentially moot as the squirrel can just jump onto the feeder.
How to Attract Birds in the Winter
Bird feeder aside here’s a few extra tricks to help you to get more birds into your yard in the winter
Type of Feed
You’ll need to make sure the bird feed that you buy is of good quality and versatile enough that it can attract a variety of different birds. The type of feed you choose can massively change the type of birds you attract and how many. During the winter, it’s a good idea to try and use feed that is high-fat with plenty of energy. Some examples are black oil sunflower seed, millet seed, peanut butter, and suet mix. You could also consider adding nyjer seed to attract finches.
Keep Your Feed Stocked
If you leave the feeder empty for too long, the birds will find somewhere else to eat. For this reason, it’s worth making sure that the feeder is always full, hence why a larger capacity bird feeder is recommended.
If you have a birdbath in your garden, it’s worth keeping it filled. It can be trickier for birds to find water during the winter, so naturally, if they see you have a birdbath it’s a big plus for the little guys. You could even get a heater for the birdbath to keep the water warm. It’ll be like a little spa for the birds!
Bird Houses & Shelter
Adding a little birdhouse to your yard is a welcome addition for a bird, it gives them somewhere to take shelter from the cold. You could also create a little pile of leaves and twigs near the feeder so the birds have a little extra shelter close to their food source.
On the subject of shelter, the birdhouse should also keep the bird protected from any cats if you let them outside.
Location of the Bird Feeder
So as we’ve previously said, you should keep the feeder away from the access of squirrels. The other thing you should consider is making sure the feeder is away from any windy areas and keep them out of the rain. You should also try to put it near some natural cover so they can easily hide.
As for height, put it somewhere that can be easily found by the birds. There’s no way to know for certain how long it’ll take the birds to find the feeder. If they can’t find it, you’ll need to put it somewhere more visible. You’ll also need to put it high enough so you can change the food out. Many people choose to put them at roughly 5-6 feet off the ground.
It can be handy to ensure that you start preparing the yard before winter comes along, usually during the autumn, so the birds know they can use your yard as a sanctuary and they don’t just find your yard when it’s the last resort. It basically needs to become a little hangout for your birds, almost like a nursery, well before winter. Your preparation can include choosing landscaping suitable for birds, such as evergreens for sheltering, and plants that have extra fruit and sustenance during the winter.
It may be worth sprinkling a bit of human food out for the birds! Things like fruit cakes, mince pies, dried fruit, unsalted nuts, apples, or pears are great for birds. Try to dot it about the garden. For more shy birds like wrens and dunnocks, sprinkle a little grated cheese under the trees. Try to avoid anything like turkey fat or anything moldy. Make sure that you don’t give them anything too salty as this can be very bad for birds.