Back oil sunflower seed is likely the most versatile of all birdseed. We prefer using the meats or hearts as they leave less ground waste and more species are apt to chow down! Even in finch feeders, using a mix that contains sunflower hearts will bring more color and more birds to the feeder.
During cold weather, a wide variety of feathered friends will absolutely find chopped sunflower a tasty treat! Cardinals, who’d rather not perch on narrow trays, chickadees, warblers, bluebirds, Carolina wrens and the other usual suspects will go for the high fat, high protein seed.
When chopped and mixed with thistle (a popular store-bought mix) it provides a hearty meal for many! Finch feeders with trays accommodate more birds than those with perches alone too. Because thistle won’t germinate and the sunflower is void of shells… it’s a really clean seed mix with almost zero waste. Sure, thistle hulls will accumulate, but no weeds will sprout! Just scoop it up with a small garden shovel every few weeks.
We promise, just because a feeder is called by a certain name or kind- doesn’t mean that’s all it does. Finch feeders need not only offer thistle for finches! And by the way, you can fashion a great jelly feeder for orioles using a small hanging candle holder, suet feeders rock for offering nesting materials… get the picture?
Basically, birds need higher fat and carbohydrate type foods that are easier and/or faster to digest during frigid weather.
Aside from topping off basic seed feeders, you can utilize window bird feeders and other platforms for these kinds of treats. Suet cakes broken into chunks, any kind of nuggets or crumbles, even home-made suet mixes and bluebird delight (recipes on our website) are ideal for open style window feeders.
Water… don’t forget that fresh water’s extremely important when all natural sources have frozen. Birds will flock to a heated bath throughout the entire winter season!
Since freezing weather always brings more birds around to feeders, you can easily set up a new feeding space or two without additional feeders per se. Offer more of those high fat, high carb foods using suet or peanut butter smeared right on a tree trunk! Nuthatches, warblers, chickadees and every species of woodpecker will go for it in a snap. The extra calories serve them well helping to maintain body temperature and warmth overnight.
While you’re toasty warm inside, please remember feathered friend’s survival tactics and help them out during frigid weather!
“Yesterday was very bright sun, but still cool with a heavy frost this morning. By late evening there were bluebird families sitting on high line wires & fence lines and males were singing from tree tops all along the roads where I have up bluebird houses. You see families of bluebirds right now at every people house that has up nesting boxes in their yards!”
See? That’s from a bluebird expert… the scouts will be out and about very soon, busy claiming their territory and the best spring digs in hopes of attracting a mate for the cycle of life that is nesting season! It’s a great time of year for all those “people houses” who host feathered friends too.
If you’ve never experienced a family of blues in your yard… this is the year you must try! For those who’ve hosted, and even monitored nests, the rewards need not be explained. Mom & Dad raise nestlings with some pretty amazing teamwork and TLC. Should bluebirds stick around for a second clutch (very common if the first fledges are successful) you’ll see those juveniles help parents raise the new babies. Totally cool indeed!
Bluebird houses are best placed in an open area, mounted at about 5 feet high. The houses can be higher, but will prove difficult to monitor-which is a bummer. Folks actually help bluebirds thrive by looking out for them and monitoring their houses.
Everyone starts somewhere, so an absolute knowledge of the bird isn’t required – but some basic know-how and what to watch for are best for the birds. The North American Bluebird Society (NABS) actually rates and approves birdhouses suited for blues. Should you plan to monitor this year, look for a NABS Approved Bluebird House.
The website Sialis.org has a wealth of information in an easy to navigate format. Not just for bluebirds, but info about most North American cavity nesters. Your state may even have a bluebird society or association who’d be thrilled to help get you started with hosting bluebirds!
Spring is still months away for most two-legged beings, but for birds it’s the slight increase in daylight hours that sends signals. Instinctively, some of the earlier nesting birds who typically have 2-3 clutches per season, will begin scouting for suitable territory and housing to claim as their own. One of the milder winters of 2012 actually saw bluebird nest starts in February!
These cavity-dwelling birds (chickadees, nuthatches, titmice, woodpeckers and others) seek both man-made and natural nesting spots to raise their young. Providing homes for them through birdhouse kit projects makes perfect sense. Start now to have housing in place prior to nesting season in spring. The scouts will be on it sooner than than you think!
A great class-project for schools, with potential to get kids excited about and noticing some natural yet everyday wonders around them! The sturdy wooden housing offers birds a viable roost for cold nights, as well as an ultimate nest spot for several years. The houses may be decorated or painted incorporating art into the project as well.
Also as part of the project, kids can gather home-made nesting materials to help lure birds to their new creations. Feathers, and pet hair are favorites, while decorative mosses are heavily used for nest building-even by those birds who don’t use houses. Dryer lint is never recommended because polyester and such are aren’t natural. Should any of the families have horses or if the school’s near a farm… even better because horse hair is a big winner for birds! The mesh produce bags from the grocery store (like the kind apples come in) make ideal holders for the materials collected.
Please do inquire on bulk rates for school birdhouse kit projects! We’d be delighted to help… our thanks for housing the birds 🙂
Whether hanging or pole-mounted, there’s a solution with bird seed trays. This one is adjustable and accommodates almost any style feeder out there! Although the Seed Hoops hang, they’ll slide nicely right over a pole as well. It’s as simple as cutting a small slit in the center of the tray.
A few other measures to avoid ground mess or at least reduce its presence, is using a no-waste seed. Because there are no fillers, birds are less likely to sort through and pick out the good stuff! Fillers are what ends up on the ground anyway, millet, milo and corn being most common. Sunflower hearts are always a great choice, and you can bet anything that does land on the ground gets scarfed up quickly.
Suet is another alternative for clean feeding. Many birds will partake and there’s no waste. Thistle’s also a good choice as these seeds will not germinate. You won’t see as many species with thistle alone (mostly finches), but when offered along with suet, there should be a good variety. Chickadees, nuthatches, warblers, woodpeckers, and even bluebirds in winter will go for suet.
So if the feeding mess has you down, don’t give up the ship yet… try using a bird seed tray and offering cleaner seed. The birds are worth it 🙂
What a fun image… even though the subject is house sparrows, but c’mon… bird baths are pretty useless once turned skating rink 🙁
Aside from the skater, the one with the hat is too cute- thanks Elmer for the creative… it’s perfect! Adding a simple bath heater makes water accessible through winter months. Being a critical life force, you’d be surprised at the variety of feathered friends who will frequent a fresh water source during hard freezes. Even when there’s snow on the ground, good old H2O serves birds much more effectively.
The main mode of survival during bitter weather is to eat enough food throughout the day to store a layer of fat, enough to get them through the night. So when a bird eats snow to get water, they burn precious calories in the process converting that snow to water.
Heated bird baths however are as simple as plugging them into an outlet, thus eliminating this futile process. For use year-round, just unplug and tuck the cord when spring finally rolls around. If you have an existing bath that gets turned over for winter – stop! Just add a heater as an accessory, the newer ones are safe in most baths and they even come with manufacturer warranties these days.
Even bluebirds are more likely to over-winter if a consistent fresh water source is available to them. So nix the skating rink and the dreaded bath “turn-over” as you’ll entice more beaked buddies to your place and encourage them to stick around!