Winter can be a challenging time for our friends in the avian world, but with a little help from us, we can keep them happy and well-fed during the colder months. Here in Pass Christian, where the winters are milder than up north but can still get pretty chilly, it’s important to provide our local birds with the sustenance they need to thrive throughout the colder months. So, let’s jump in and discover how to make this winter a cozy and joyful season for our favorite native birds!
The Importance of Winter Bird Feeding
Winter can be a tough time for everyone, but for birds, it’s a season fraught with serious food scarcity. Many songbirds that rely on seeds and insects during the warmer months often struggle to find nourishment once the temperature drops, so setting up bird feeders in your backyard can quickly turn you into a winter superhero for our feathered friends. Making our garden bird-friendly is part of our winter garden preparation. Here are some tips to help you get started:
1. Choose the Right Feeders
To kickstart your winter bird-feeding endeavors, you’ll need some bird feeders! There are various types of feeders you can try, including tube feeders, hopper feeders, and platform feeders, each catering to different bird species’ feeding preferences. Just be sure to go for ones with a squirrel-proof design, though, as those rebellious rascals can quickly make off with your entire seed stash!
2. Select the Best Birdseed
Now that you have your feeders, it’s time to fill them. In the winter months, seeds with high fat contents, like black oil sunflower seeds and nyjer seeds, are excellent choices and provide essential energy and warmth to many regular birds, but remember to provide a mix of seeds to cater to different bird species’ dietary needs.
3. Attract a Variety of Winter Birds to Your Backyard
We’ve talked a lot about catering to different bird species’ needs and preferences, and for good reason: variety is the spice of life, after all! Attracting a variety of bird species is more than just entertaining and educational; it goes a long way towards ensuring your efforts benefit our entire native bird population. By offering a variety of feeder and seed options, you might be lucky enough to spot some winter migrants passing through your Mississippi backyard alongside regular visitors like cardinals, starlings, chickadees, and sparrows.
4. Install Suet Feeders
Suet is a high-energy food source made from animal fat and is particularly appealing to woodpeckers, nuthatches, and other insect-eating birds. Hang suet feeders near your other bird feeders to provide a well-rounded menu for your avian guests. To entice even more bird species, hang a variety of suet cake flavors, such as peanut, berry, and insect.
5. Strategically Place Your Bird Feeding Stations
To create a bird-friendly winter garden, think strategically about where you place your feeders. Positioning them near sheltered areas, such as trees or shrubs, will protect birds from harsh winds and predators. You’ll also want to make sure your feeding stations are easily accessible for cleaning and refilling.
More Top Bird-Feeding Tips
Food is great, but there are some other things wintering birds are going to be on the lookout for. Follow these tips if you want to keep your feathered friends around this winter:
Winter Water Sources for Birds
Birds need access to fresh water, even in cold weather, so consider investing in a heated bird bath to ensure your feathered friends have a reliable water source, no matter the temperature outside. These heated baths prevent the water from freezing, making it easier for birds to stay hydrated.
Winter Bird Feeding Safety and Hygiene
While it’s essential to feed wintering birds, it’s equally crucial to maintain a clean feeding area. Regularly clean your bird feeders to prevent the spread of diseases using a mixture of one part bleach to nine parts water for cleaning, and rinse thoroughly before refilling. Also, be mindful of potential bird feeder pests like squirrels or raccoons and take measures to deter them.
Tips for Bird Feeding in Snow and Ice
Snow and ice can pose challenges for both birds and bird feeders, so we recommend keeping your feeders well-stocked during snowy spells. Shovel paths to your feeding stations and remove snow from the tops of your bird feeders to ensure birds can easily access the food stored inside.
The Best Time of Day to Feed the Birds
Birds are most active during the early morning and late afternoon, so time your feedings accordingly. This way, you can enjoy the liveliest bird-watching experiences and provide them with the sustenance they need when they need it most.
Creating a Bird-Friendly Winter Garden
To further enhance your bird-friendly garden, plant native trees and shrubs that provide native birds with natural sources of food and shelter, and incorporate a diverse range of plant species to attract a wide array of wildlife to your garden. As the biodiversity of your garden flourishes, so too will that of your visitors.
DIY Winter Bird Feeders
Get your kids excited about the wonderful world of bird feeding by creating DIY feeders together. You can fashion bird feeders from pine cones coated in peanut butter and rolled in seeds or craft simple feeders from recycled materials. It’s an excellent opportunity to bond with your children while teaching them the importance of caring for our feathered friends.
Make winter bird feeding a part of your routine this year, and let’s celebrate their beauty, songs, and presence in Pass Christian for another year. Don’t forget to stop by Pine Hills Nursery for a great selection of birdhouses, native plants, and other supplies to help you start out on your own birding adventures today!