Whether you are year-round RVer, taking an off-season cabin holiday, or are surviving the winter at home, seeing birds out your window can brighten your day. Before the trees or flowers show their first buds, birds are out and actively preparing for the spring.
While they might seem tiny and fragile, birds have some interesting adaptations to help them stay alive through even the harshest weather conditions. For one, they are able to tuck in their feet and legs up into their breasts and fluff out their feathers, to create an insulating layer of air. When we get goosebumps, our bodies are trying to do a thing.
Birds also get together in tree cavities or dense shrubs where they shiver to produce more heat and huddle to share it. It’s just like how we will cuddle together under a quilt with our loved ones when we are cold.
If that wasn’t cool enough, birds can actually lower their body temperature to save energy at night.
But with all these benefits of Mother Nature, winter weather can prove too much for birds who cannot find enough food to keep up their energy. This is where bird loving people like us step in with bird feeders. They get the food, and we get the show.
Stock your hanging feeders with black sunflower seeds, sunflower hearts, or high-fat nuts. Remember they need the calories. If you have a can of nuts that have gone stale, don’t throw them out. Feed them to the birds.
If they happen to be spicy, then all the better. Birds love capsaicin, the chemical that makes hot peppers spicy, but other critters like squirrels hate it. So you would be giving the birds a special treat that they don’t have to compete for.
If you don’t have any seeds or nuts in your pantry, then check out your local hardware store. CLICK HERE to find the closest Ace Hardware near you.
Birds like dried fruit, so plan on mixing that into your seed mix. Also, some appreciate fresh fruit too. Blackbirds and Thrushes are glad for apples and pears, so if you have some that are turning, don’t throw it out, string it up in your closest tree.
In the winter do you find yourself craving fattier food? It’s your body’s response to being cooler and working harder to stay warm. Now you have an extra excuse when you raid the chocolate chip cookies or chow down on those heavy cream chowders as if you needed one. Anyhow, birds work so hard to get their food and stay warm in the winter, they burn up their fats supplies faster and need to replace them to survive. That’s where suet comes in. Okay, if you are like me you need a suet education, here you go: www.birdsforever.com/suet.html
In warmer months, birds have bugs to provide this kind of nutrition, but they mostly die off or stay hidden in the winter months. In cold months, suet can literally be a life saver for your local birds.
All life needs water and birds need it every day. If you have plenty of snow, they would still prefer it already melted because snow makes bird bodies work harder and they’re already working overtime. Also, if you providing a place for a clean drink of water you may attract more birds than with feeders alone.
5. Keep it Clean
Be sure to keep both water and feeders clean and inspect them regularly to avoid contamination from droppings. This is even more important in winter when other food sources are difficult to find and backyard feeders are in heavy use.
6. Safe Heights
You don’t want to give the birds food, just to make them cat food. Put the feeders in safe locations! Just because you don’t have a cat, doesn’t mean there aren’t wandering cats in your area. Remember, well-fed cats are still bird predators. So put your feeders high off the ground and far enough away from anything a cat could use to jump to the feeder. This way the birds can be entertainment, not a meal.
7. Make Your Own Feeders
If you don’t have a feeder, you don’t have to go out and buy one. Make one instead. This site has 32 fun and easy options.
Raid your cupboards, drawers, and recycling to help the birds. If you just have some of these simple and readily available supplies like:
- Twine, ribbon, or yarn
- Scissors, butter knife, and/or can openers
- Toilet paper rolls, soda bottles, tin cans, and/or mesh fruit bag
Then you are set to start crafting your own DIY birdfeeder today. You can make it some in less than 10 minutes! Some are so easy they are perfect for toddlers, so include the kids or grandchildren.
Not only will you see more birds by helping them out this winter, but you can also enjoy making a project with the family and recycle in the process. All of which can help gladden these last dreary days of winter.
How many backyard birds can you find? Play our Backyard Bird Bingo and find out! Our free, full color, printable game sheet has 18 beautiful birds that are common in Virginia. Click to get your game!
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