How to Feed Birds During the Winter

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Once you learn which species of birds visit you during the winter months, you can determine how to feed them with the right kinds of seed. Get expert advice from a landscape designer in this free video on winter garden care.

Part of the Video Series: Winter Garden Care
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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Marci Degman, The Aspiring Gardener and today, we're going to talk about feeding your birds during the winter. It changes a little bit when the weather gets cold because the migrating birds leave and what you're left with are your year-round birds. And after awhile, if you're observing that, if you'll get used to which birds come and which birds don't. The way that I've done that is I've found a local book, I live in Oregon, so I've first find my bird in that book and then, I take my reference book so that I can look up more and more information on that bird. And once you kind of know which birds come, you'll kind of know what to feed them. But as a general rule, the best seed I found for overall winter care is the Black Wilson Flower Seed. That's good for big birds, little birds. We don't have house finches and little birds like that in the, in this time of the year, so I don't need the little Niger Seed. But, this works for all of my birds from Blue Jays down to Nuthatches. If you buy the mix bird seed, you notice it has a number of the black seeds in it; but it also has millets and all kinds of little seed. Now, I don't have a lot of birds that come like that, I know Morning Doves like that; at least the junior ones do that I had for awhile. And a lot of times what happens to me is all that seed ends up on the ground. So, it's good to watch what birds are coming and what they're eating because even though this is less expensive, you're going to waste a lot of seed on the ground. So, watch and see what your birds are eating. The thing with the black seed is you can buy it in a forty pound bag, saves a lot of money and then, it's not as expensive as you think. You just have to keep it dry; it'll last all winter. So, that's my one seed that I put up in the winter. I used to try all kinds of things. The other thing you want to realize is that winter birds, especially those that eat insects need to have things like that have fat in them. So, that's why you have suet cakes that you can buy or you can buy suet, melt it down and you can add things like sunflower seeds; try to get the unsalted seeds 'cause they don't need that extra salt. You can also put things out like peanuts which I like to do that because the, the big birds tend to bully the little birds. So, what I do is I put things like this in one feeder to keep them over there and that way the little birds are kind of left alone. And the other thing I do is I always try to have a little, these little feeders, kind of ornamental, but it turned to be the favorite of the Chickadees and the Nuthatches because the big birds don't like it. They stay away from it. So, if I put this in one spot, my little birds go over there; then, if I put something like this with the black or sunflower seed, the other birds of every size go to that one. So, what you can do is have two or three different types of feeders, different sizes and that way your birds are not all trying to eat at the same place. Now, if you like the idea of the suet cake, but you really don't want to have to melt down the fat and do that, you can also just use regular peanut butter. And what you do is you just mix things like the sunflowers, you can mix dried fruit; a lot of different things that birds like to eat can go into these and then, you just mold them into little cakes and you put them into those little squares suet feeders or like I like to do is this is like a little basket that I use; it's got three different compartments, that way I can put different things or I can put enough out there that I'm not out there replacing it every couple of days. I also like this because some birds like to eat up the trunk of a tree. And if you want to get Woodpeckers, you want to put a suet feeder right on the trunk of the tree. So, what you want to do to have lots of birds in the winter, keep them fed, keep them watered and have different kinds of feeders so that you can please all your birds. And that's how you feed birds in the winter.

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