With the recent snowstorm that hit much of Ontario and left 14” of snow in my backyard it reminded me of how important it is to feed the birds during the winter months. When the snowfalls, especially in these heavy amounts, it is not as easy for the birds to find food as it is in the summer months. Personally I leave the majority of my perennials in my gardens throughout the winter months so that the birds can feed on the seed heads (coneflowers, grasses, sedums, etc) and I recommend this practice to my clients as well, however a quick look out in my garden now and I can’t see ANYTHING in my garden right now!
That said it is important right now to be sure to fill your bird feeders. While it is a good idea to fill your birdfeeders in any season, winter is especially important. Keeping your birdfeeders well stocked will keep our feathered friends full, not to mention keep them coming back to your property for some fun bird watching.
One thing to keep in mind is that we do not want to feed to the birds visiting our yard is bread. While we might think that by ‘throwing bread to the birds’ is a good way to dispose of our stale bread and feed the birds at the same time, we can actually harm the birds by doing this. Bread is full of “empty calories” for birds and gives them no nutritional value. By providing bread on a regular basis we discourage the birds from scavenging for their own food. Lastly, bread mix with water can actually suffocate birds,
Birds also require water, even in the winter. If you have a bird bath and a heater, now is the time to turn it on and give the birds a place to get some fresh water. Bird bath heaters can be purchased at many garden centers or if you would like more information please feel free to contact me and I can help you locate one.
There are many bird seed mixes available and selecting the right one depends on the birds in your yard. Here are some pointers that should help you select seed mixes to feed the birds in your yard and perhaps attract some new ones:
– Blue Jays feed on peanuts in the shell *
– Woodpeckers will feed upside down. Hanging suet cake holders upside down will encourage woodpeckers to visit and feed in your yard
– Cardinals like sunflower seeds and prefer to be fed at a fixed feeder at a height of 5′
– Chickadees like Safflower seeds. Bonus – squirrels do not!
A bit of birdseed can go a long way to providing hours of enjoyment watching the birds in your yard. Enjoy our feather friends this winter!
***Keep in mind that if you have may have visitors with nut or corn allergies, especially children, you may want to avoid certain seed mixtures.