Many people believe that when days shorten and temperatures drop, it is time to bring in your bird feeders until springtime, but that’s not correct.
Winter is the most critical time to leave your feeders out for the birds, as their food choices are scarcest during this time. For some birds, it can literally impact their survival. Food that is high in fat content, like suet and nuts, is of particular importance.
If you’re in the North, you may see some diehard holdovers that decide to stick it out through the cold weather. As an example, my favorite birds (Cardinals) typically do not migrate! Their bright red plumage looks amazing with a brilliant white snow background! How to attract Cardinals to your yard!
If you are in the South, you will likely see a whole new group of migrating birds (snowbirds?) either passing through or, if they find adequate food and water sources, possibly deciding to make your area their new winter home.
To keep warm, you will see them “puffed up” with their feathers for their version of a down winter coat. During cold nights, some species like Bluebirds and Chickadees will seek out shelter like bird houses and huddle together to stay warmer. If you have a bird house, you can help by making sure it is clean and mice haven’t settled in.
In freezing weather, liquid water sources are also important. Some good alternatives include small, electric bird bath heaters to keep water from freezing, or if it’s not bitter cold, a window feeder like ClearView with water can remain liquid longer because of the residual heat coming from your windows (works until it’s about 25 degrees F outside).
It is interesting in Winter months to see birds come in flocks of multiple species. Birding experts believe this is protective behavior as more birds can raise alarms more quickly with less foliage to hide from predators. Researchers suggest that the interspecies “pack leaders” are often the diminutive Chickadees!
Having sustenance during winter months can make the difference between starvation and survival for some birds, especially during particularly cold snaps!
Even though temperatures are lower, it is still important that you clean your feeder(s) periodically to provide the safest environment possible for your feathered friends.
To effectively clean and sanitize your feeder, you have two primary choices. If your feeder is dishwasher-safe, like ClearView Window Bird Feeder, you can clean and rinse it outside, then place it in the top rack of your dishwasher by itself on a sanitize cycle. If your feeder is not dishwasher safe, then you can use the traditional bleach disinfection method. Clean and rinse outside, then soak in a 9-to-1 bleach solution for at least 10 minutes. Be sure to thoroughly rinse your feeder, as even traces of bleach can be harmful to birds. Dry it completely before replenishing. See this YouTube video for best practices with cleaning your bird feeder.
Your feathered friends will appreciate you providing a safe environment for them to survive and thrive during the colder winter months.
Providing them a safe and secure bird house or two in early spring may encourage them to stick around and have babies in your backyard! Enjoy! How to attract Bluebirds to your yard!