Bird watching is one of the most peaceful and enjoyable things of having a backyard. Just because it’s not spring yet, doesn’t mean you can’t attract some winter birds to spend your morning with! Sit back, grab a cup of coffee, and enjoy your backyard, even if it is freezing and snowy. Winter birds will give you the pick me up you need until Spring rolls around.
How to Start
How do you start up your winter bird gathering? There’s a few key things you will need to do and a few optional things to do to attract these brave, cold weather friends. Food, water, and shelter are the necessities. You probably know this already if you have the lovely spring birds!
However, if you add a roost and landscaping you might get a bigger crowd or more variety of birds. Bonus! Let’s go through what exactly you need to get this bird party started.
There are so many different mixes and types of bird food available. So which do you choose?
Black oil sunflower seed
The reigning champion of all bird foods. Almost every single bird likes it! You really can’t go wrong here. It’s got a nice thin shell and a large seed for the birds to feast on. Some birdwatchers have commented that the grey or striped sunflower seeds are not as popular due to the seed size being smaller and the shell being tougher.
They are becoming an increasingly popular choice to feed birds with! You don’t need to go out and buy honey roasted peanuts by any means. They will be happy with unsalted, out of the shell, and broken up pieces. Remember all those times you threw away the last bits of your peanuts because they looked like this? Well, put them to good use! Blue jays are particularly fond of this type of food and you might even attract a few cardinals as well.
Bird seed mix
It is another great option, but you probably already knew that! Be careful not to go too cheap though. A lot of the very cheap bird seed won’t have as many goodies in it that winter birds really love. Remember, they are looking for high energy food and if they must pick through a bunch of junk they won’t come back as often. Ask your local feed store or hardware store for a nice mix and they will most likely be able to help you out!
This is the perfect treat for cardinals. If you are looking for some bright red bird friends, this is the option for you! It’s got a very thin shell which makes it readily available to munch down the seed.
This is a very common bird food but you are going to get a lot of other visitors along with it. Depending on where you live you can expect squirrels or even bigger critters like elk! If you are ok with that and welcoming some furry company, go for it! However, if you are looking to keep just your bird friends, you might want to stick with a different option.
Well, this one is a no brainer. Birds want fresh water even in the middle of winter. Obviously, this can be a little tough with freezing temperatures! Luckily, there are some great bird baths that have a heating component to keep the water thawed and available. You will be sure to have some feathered guests show up with a readily available open water source!
Most animals burrow down for the winter, but for our flighty friends, it can be a bit of a challenge. Providing shelter is a wonderful way to ensure they are happy and stick around your yard all winter long.
A bird house
It's a simple way to do this. Most hardware stores or nurseries will have these available. Make sure to place the opening to the south so they can have sunshine and keep out of North winds.
A brush pile is another option for making a nice home for birds throughout the winter. Again, try to make the openings to the south and the closed off portion to the north. This is the perfect way to deal with your fall cleanup leftovers!
Building a roost
A creative way to provide a home for winter birds. A lot of hardware stores will have them, you can find them online, or you can get super crafty and make your own! Building a roost is a great activity, a warmer home than the other two shelter options, and can house multiple birds.
Landscaping for Winter Birds
Like you needed an excuse to spend some money on landscaping! Really though, planting some evergreens is one of the best ways to attract and keep winter birds in your yard. Not only are they beautiful and smell delicious, they are insulating homes for our winter bird guests! Whether you choose shrubs or trees, make sure to prune them in spring so they have extra insulation throughout the winter.
We all like clean windows, but sometimes they can be a headache for birds, literally! I’m not sure if you have ever experienced a bird collision with your window but the results are terrible. Put up some kind of sticker or décor on your large windows and doors so that birds can see they cannot indeed fly in!
Another hazard that most people won’t think of is your cat. You’ve seen the Tweety bird cartoon, haven’t you? There are a lot of different ways to deter cats from your bird haven. Reflective CD’s hanging in the tree or even plastic bottles work really well in the winter. There are even plastic spike strips you can put up. Of course, a bird house that is cat proof works just as well as anything else.
As you can see, there are some definite similarities in set up for your winter birds but it’s important to take notice the differences as well. Having colorful birds brighten up your snowy landscape is a great way to spend a day inside after a heavy snow. Kids and adults alike can enjoy the bright colors and interactions between these beautiful aviation experts.
Amazon carries everything you need to create a bird haven in your garden: