Birdwatching is a hobby that many people enjoy to varying degrees. Some people will go out of their way to go “Birding” while others will put out some feeders in the hopes of seeing some nice birds come by.
Which ever camp you fall into, there are some things that you need to do to prepare and encourage those little feathered friends to stop by your home. You won’t be disappointed if you put out a feeder or two. The birds will appreciate your help as the winter drains them of energy much faster than in summer months.
This little goldfinch is still feeding through the summer months and encouraging them to do that is wonderful.
But, then don’t leave them to starve in the winter months. Gold Finches are hard to recognize when winter arrives. They loose their pretty yellow feathers and become a dark dull gray color without that splash of yellow. If they have been coming to you through the summer months, then they will come to you through the winter months as well. They have been trained well. Without a doubt, you will have lovely Niger seeds (their most favorite seed) waiting for them. They will count on you to provide those seeds through the winter as well.
Setting out bird feeders is the first way in which to entice the birds to come to visit in the winter months.
They need food to keep their little bodies warm. It is best practice, to start feeding from feeders, early in the season, before the snow starts to fly. While the birds will find sources of food during the autumn, they will also “scope” out the easy places to feed too!
Bird Feeders come in a variety of sizes and shapes and price points too. What kind of feeder you put up, will depend on what kind of birds you are trying to attract.
Most bird feeders will take a variety of seed types, from millet and cracked corn, to sunflower seeds and nuts.
It’s good to know what kind of seed is preferred by the birds in your area.
In the northern parts of the States and Southern Canada, you will get a variety of birds like blue jays, cedar wax jays, cardinals, woodpeckers, mourning doves, juncos, sparrows, and the lovely little chickadees.
Many of the birds that stay for the winter love to feast on Black Sunflower seeds. They are high in protein for the birds and high in oils that keep them healthy during those cold winter days and nights. Many of the birds are not as fussy and a good mix of seeds will delight them just as well.
Suet cakes are another wonderful way to feed the birds during the coldest times of the year. You can buy these already prepared or you can make your own. (This Grammie makes her own and you can read more about that here: http://grammieknows.ca/super-easy-suet-cakes/)
These products offer a good selection of seed and fruit/nut mixes that most birds will be very happy to indulge in. That means lots of visits to your garden.
Birds in the winter need a source of water!
Its easy to have water ready for them, even when it’s freezing outside. Even in a shelter spot, the water will freeze, so “birders” and those of us who love to see the birds year round, invest in a small heated birdbath. This keeps the water right around 32 degrees, so that it is drinkable for those thirsty and hungry little feathered creatures. This one would be ideal:
So you need to be ready with two more things! Your camera and or a set of binoculars or both, need to be ready to use at a moments notice. You will be treated to the antics of the birds as they feed and enjoy their take out buffet. Birds are amazing to watch and enjoyable to see in the coldest bitter months. That bright red of the cardinals, or the blue and grey of the Jays is a delight against the white backgrounds of winter. I bet you are lucky and a good photographer! Your next Holiday Cards could be made from a picture taken in your own backyard. How’s that for wishing everyone a Happy Holiday from your house to theirs?
So just to recap, the 5 things you need to do to keep the birds happy and coming back for more, are:
- Have your bird feeders clean and ready
- Have the types of seed that birds in your area like.
- Have some suet cakes ready for those birds who need the extra fat content
- Have a source of water available to the birds at all times
- Have your camera and/or binoculars ready for a fun winter of bird watching.
For more information or if you want to become a “birder” you can check out these links: