Winter can be rough on a little bird, or even bigger birds. These top 3 tips will help you help the birds survive this winter. As a bonus, your yard should be filled with fluttering color.
Food is the easiest way to help out the birds in your area. Put out a variety of food and stick to it. Once you start feeding for the winter it is very important that you continue your chosen schedule as the birds will become somewhat dependent on you.
Black oil sunflower seed is a great general purpose seed for feeders and for ground feeding birds. It provides plenty of fat and can be bought for under 50 cents a pound when you buy in bulk at local discount stores (I pay under $17 for a 40lb bag at our local Wal-Mart.) Use several different types of feeders to reach the maximum number of birds. If you live in a snowy area, be sure to use feeders with sturdy covers to protect the seed (and the birds as they eat).
Other types of birds prefer nuts, fruit, and a concoction called suet. Suet can be bought ready made or made yourself from peanut butter, lard, seed, and fruit. There are many recipes but I tend to stick with one from a licensed bird rehabilitation group, the Alabama Wildlife Center.
Next on the list is shelter. While birdhouses are a nice idea, most birds aren’t really looking for nesting sites in winter. Plant evergreens around your property to provide protected perching areas, keep ground sections free of snow, and to provide a windbreak. If you plant evergreens along one side of your property (the side where the winter wind comes from) you can help turn your yard into a haven from harsh weather for the winter birds.
If you can’t plant evergreen trees (or want something faster), consider planting evergreen shrubs. Because shrubs and trees that are evergreen don’t lose their needles or leaves in the winter, they are very good at stopping snow from reaching birds huddled inside on the branches near the trunk.
Believe it or not, even with snow everywhere, water is hard for a bird to find in winter. Frozen water doesn’t help them at all. Put out a shallow bird bath and place a few rocks in the middle (so the birds don’t have to wade in the cold water). Remember to refresh the water often so it doesn’t freeze.
You can also consider a heated bird bath that is designed to prevent the water from freezing. NEVER put additives/chemicals in the water to keep it from freezing as you will likely kill the birds you are trying to help.