The anticipation brings several chores for winterizing; bringing plants inside (when there’s absolutely no room for them), covering outdoor spigots- but first disconnecting the umpteen attachments for misters and birdbath drippers, digging out bird bath heaters stored from last winter and maybe even weatherstripping a few windows because the wind is just howling right now.
And then there’s the birds!
Though they’ve done pretty well at surviving winter on their own- there’s lots you can do to make it a little easier for them. In return they’ll grace your space through long and dreary winter days.
- Clean and fill all bird feeders with fresh food as last night’s rain (but of course) made for some nasty birdseed. Nobody likes mushy seed.
- Fresh suet if it’s been sitting out for a while. Now’s the time to switch from no-melt warm weather suet to the gooey stuff filled with lard or fat. It’s higher in calories for birds to stay warm overnight.
- Add another suet feeder because so many resident birds partake in cold weather. Check out the easy recipe for bluebird banquet and whip up a batch for the first cold snap! Not just for blues, your chickadees, nuthatches, titmice, warblers, wrens and others love this stuff!
- Nyjer seed should also be replaced if sitting out for more than two weeks or so and if you’ve had substantial rain.
- Bird Bath heaters… just can’t say enough if you want your bluebirds to stick around through winter! We use one heated deck-mount bird bath and 3 separate heaters in other baths around the yard. Fresh water is critical in winter, especially when all natural sources tend to freeze. And it’s the easiest way to attract birds to the yard! Now, when squatting and walking like a duck under the screened porch to plug-in the one heater… be sure to hit your head really hard on the floor of screened porch above- ouch! Nope- we have no picture for that but can promise it literally takes your breath away ;(
- Peanuts and peanut butter are fab winter foods! Mix peanuts with seed on a platform feeder or try peanut butter right on a tree trunk. Warblers, nuthatches, jays and woodpeckers will go for it!
- Winterize birdhouses by first repairing any damage and sealing vents with weather stripping or duct tape. Lots of birds line their roosts with dried pine needles or leaves. Offer wood shavings or nesting materials to help them decorate!
Happy birding and bundle up… it’s cold out there!
It’s more often than not, and applies universally to all creatures (including smarty-pants humans). The path of least resistance will be option #1. Yes, there’s even a fun garden plaque stating such!
When feeding backyard birds and/or squirrels, you’re bound to attract a few less desirable furry friends. The masked marvels (raccoons) are hands-down the most destructive of all. Likely due to their curious nature and smarts- they can manage to disrupt bird feeders, tall bird baths, even hummingbird feeders that hang within reach!
Although hummingbird nectar or sugar water has no scent- it’s the shiny hanging thing that piques curiosity. Once the sweet sticky treat is discovered… they’ll be back for more the next evening. Upon seeing your empty feeder which was just filled the day prior, you may be wondering who ate all that food so fast?
Much the same as when you discover the top of your tall bird bath broken on the ground 🙁
To prevent this from happening again, the birdbath is an easy fix since the critters are simply looking for water.
Place a plant saucer on the ground for wildlife and keep it full of fresh water. It just goes back to that path of least resistance! If they don’t have to climb… why bother?
On our deck at home in Atlanta, mom and babies each took turns playing in this bubbling fountain. Luckily it’s on the ground and fairly indestructible! But the glass hummingbird feeders hanging from the deck… not so much!
Having extra feeders out for busy fall migration (five on the back deck alone), the critters were caught red-handed and in the nick of time! We simply moved one feeder to a garden pole with empty bracket, hung one feeder from the hummingbird swing and bought one feeder inside for the night. A little confusing for the tiny sprites in early morning hours… but now they have the routine down pat! Silly person moves our food back to deck for daytime.
As for the broken bath? Place a shallow pan of water on the ground right next to it, or use a tall bird bath that won’t break! These beauties are ideal for year-round use, accepting a heater in winter and large enough for a fountain or water wiggler in summer.
Lastly, should raccoons or squirrels be destroying your seed feeders… use a baffle! For those who insist baffles don’t work? Wrong- they’re just not installed correctly. feeder placement is most important, here’s another post with more detail on baffles.
You can feed birds without the headache or intrusion of other wildlife by using baffles, placing feeders correctly and offering fresh water at ground level 🙂
Resolve to help birds thrive in freezing weather…
When temperatures are soaring in the midst of summer, it’s pretty obvious to remember water for feathered friends and wildlife. We’re outdoors more often, gardening and relaxing- so filling the birdbath becomes intuitive. But throughout winter months, and especially in freezing weather we tend to prefer the cozy warmth of staying inside. But birds require fresh water regardless of the time of year or temperatures.
Some of the more hard core bird lovers will make the daily trudge through snow and ice to clear, clean and fill feeders (that’s us!). Several heated bird baths around our place remain ice-free (and worry-free) as resident birds are seen daily drinking from them. Although bathing is not as popular in freezing weather… water is critical for drinking!
A popular birding magazine with an expert article mentioned that birds can fend for themselves when it comes to water in winter. Melting ice and snow for example will provide water. BUT during a week-long deep freeze in Atlanta recently, there was zero precipitation (luckily) – which means there was no melting ice and no snow. So… that theory’s not really valid.
Fresh water is so important yet so easy with a heated bird bath or a simple heater added to your existing bath. It’s an oasis for year-round use (just tuck the cord) and they come in several styles like deck-mounted, tall pedestal or heated ground baths. In many cases, a heater will keep your ceramic or cement birdbath from freezing and cracking as well.
Nab a heated bird bath for this winter season. It’s a one-time investment that offers an ongoing, essential element to help wild birds thrive in cold winter months.