Home > Great Big Greenhouse Blog > February 2016 > BONNIE'S GARDEN--Feeding Birds in the Winter

BONNIE'S GARDEN--Feeding Birds in the Winter

The day after the snow stopped last weekend, I was sitting by the window and watching a flurry of birds at the bird-feeder hanging outside—sparrows, finches, cardinals, and one very busy blue jay!  That made me think—the next time I make a grocery store run because of snow, I need to remember to not just pick up food for me and the kitties but food for the birds, as well.

With not much to look at in my garden this time of year, I do enjoy watching the birds so I did a little research to find out what to feed them to attract the biggest variety to my yard.  Because there aren’t many insects available over the winter, most of the birds that winter here are seed eaters.  Some seeds are better than others, however.  Seeds and nuts with a higher fat content are best for winter feeding—black oil sunflower seeds and even peanuts.

Can you use mixed bird seeds?  Sure, but try to avoid too many fillers like red millet and wheat.  A good mix should contain black oil sunflower seeds, white millet, even cracked corn and/or peanut bits. Remember, too, black thistle seed (Niger) to attract goldfinches.

Suet, rendered beef fat, is a great energy source.  You can buy prepared suet cakes or make your own and add bird seed, chopped peanuts, etc.  Ask the meat department at your local grocery store if they have leftover beef fat trimmings you can “melt” down.

 Birds enjoy the moisture content and vitamins they find in various fruits so place pans filled with chopped grapes, apple tidbits, banana or orange slices—even chopped raisins which have been soaked in water first.  Fruit will attract a wider variety of birds. Wash fruit carefully or buy organic to minimize pesticide residues.

If you don’t have anywhere to hang a birdfeeder, you can smear peanut butter on a tree trunk and press peanut bits or cracked corn into it.  I tried that Monday and had the fun of watching two woodpeckers go for it.

If you’re thinking long term bird-feeding, there are trees and shrubs like winterberry holly, American Beautyberry, Sweet Bay Magnolia or viburnums which have winter fruit/berries.  It’s also good to provide a ready water source—a heated birdbath or pond with running water.  This was brought home to me when I was putting a bowl of water out for the stray cats I feed and no sooner than I got in the front door, than there were five birds surrounding that little bowl.

So if I run into you at the grocery store the next time they’re calling for snow, see if I don’t have a bag or two of sunflower seeds mixed in with the cat food, bread, and milk in my cart.
Posted: 2/1/2016 by Bonnie Pega | with 0 comment(s)
Filed under: Bonnie's, Garden
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