How To Help Birds In Winter

The time the birds need us the most is in the winter. During the spring and summer months the diet of most song birds are insects and spiders, believe it or not. This form of food is very nutritious and easy to capture. Even if you feed the wild birds throughout the summer, when the winter comes the non-migratory song birds will need your help. After the first frost the insects die off and the berry laden bushes are stripped of their fruit. The days grow shorter and temperatures plummet. Often the days are windy and rainy. As the temperatures near the teens and below, finding food can be especially challenging. Here’s how to help birds in winter.


The best seed to attract the maximum types of songbirds is black oil sunflower seed. With a higher oil content, it gives our feathered friends the fat they need to keep their metabolism up during winter.  Wrens, Nuthatches, Chickadees, Cardinals, Titmice, Woodpeckers, and  many more types love black oil sunflower seed.  Another great feed to attract birds are rendered suet cakes. The oil provides high energy and is especially beloved by woodpeckers. Many other birds enjoy suet cakes and I was surprised to see Bluebirds eating it all last winter. If squirrels are raiding your feeder you should try the squirrel proof feeders and /or sunflower seed that has been treated with hot chili pepper oil. The birds cant taste the chili, but it will certainly burn little squirrel lips!


Water is essential to all living things and birds are attracted to it through their keen sense of smell and sight. A shallow bird bath that is consistently filled with fresh water will bring more birds to your backyard . Bird bath heaters can be used in the Winter as it is particularly hard on our feathered friends when every water  source freezes up. Ponds and fountains provide running water that the birds can hear from quite a distance. Once they find it they will return daily to delight you with their bathing and drinking shenanigans.


Birds also need shelter in the winter, so you’ll want to plant some evergreens in your yard. Some favorites are hollies and cypress. They provide a beautiful evergreen privacy screen or backdrop for your landscape and give the birds a place to huddle together in inclement weather or at night. Hollies provide berries for the birds to eat and cypress have cones that contain edible seeds.

If you feed the birds in the winter, or for that matter, throughout the year, you are in good company. 43% of the American public, 95 million people, provide food for wild birds. It is one of the most popular recreational actives in the U.S.

Make your yard a bird habitat by providing food, water and shelter.  By providing those 3 things you can help birds in winter.  Enjoy watching them daily with your family.  Place feeders and baths where you can see them from the breakfast table or a family room easy chair. Buy a bird identification book and I guarantee you will soon be hooked on learning just who’s at your feeder. Enjoy!

If you’re in the Oak Ridge & Knoxville Tennessee area, Willow Ridge Garden Center carries all the bird houses, bird feeders, bird seed, suet cakes and accessories that you need.

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