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How Do You Feed the Birds in the Winter?

How do you feed the birds in the winter? Picture of a red bird eating from a feeder.

Learn the Pros and Cons

Winter challenges birds, with natural food sources often diminished by snow and icy conditions. As with many things, there are both pros and cons to feeding birds during the colder months. 

Many experts believe feeding the birds in the winter is essential to help keep them healthy during the coldest season of the year. 

Start by observing your birds so you know how to feed them in winter. For instance, American Robins are partial to fruits, Blue Jays like peanuts, and northern cardinals are particularly fond of black oil sunflower seeds.

Pros for Feeding Birds During the Winter

  1. Assistance During Harsh Conditions: Cold weather increases the energy demands on birds. By providing them with food, you are helping them to maintain their energy levels and body heat. 
  2. Promote Survival: Many birds, especially those that don’t migrate, depend on supplemental food sources to survive the winter. You can enhance their chances of making it through the season by feeding them. 
  3. Attract Variety: Setting up bird feeders can attract a range of species to your yard, allowing you to enjoy birdwatching even in the colder months. Imagine wrapping up in your warmest blanket with your favorite hot beverage and looking out the window watching the birds – creates a peaceful feeling. 
  4. Supporting Migration: Some birds might need an energy boost during their migration. Feeders can serve as an essential pit stop for them. 
  5. Educational Opportunity: Feeding birds can be an educational experience for the whole family. It promotes interest in birdwatching and nature conservation. 

Check out Home and Garden’s article for great feeding tips. They describe what you should and should not feed birds—for example, no table scraps, rotten food, spoiled birdseed, salt, etc. Essential foods include black sunflower seeds, cheese, eggshells, mixed seeds, fruit, and more. Toward the end of the article, they supply a bird feed recipe. 

You might be wondering, with all the pros, how there can be any negative to feeding the birds. You are not alone, as I have done the research and know the answer.  

Cons for Feeding Birds During the Winter

  1. Dependency: Overreliance on feeders might make birds less adept at finding natural food sources. If you stop feeding them for some reason, they could struggle to find alternatives. 
  2. Predator Attraction: Bird Feeders can attract predators like cats or birds of prey. Birds distracted by feeders can be easy targets. 
  3. Unnatural Diet: Not all birdseed or food suits all bird species. Feeding an inappropriate diet can lead to health problems in birds. 

Whether or not to feed the birds during the winter is a personal decision. If you choose to feed them, it’s essential to do so responsibly by providing suitable food, regularly cleaning, and placing feeders in safe locations away from predators. 

For me personally, I love to feed and watch the birds. Unfortunately, I also have a lot of squirrels, so I usually provide them both (insert shaking my head). It brings a sense of peace and brightens those dreary winter days. 

I would love to hear from you in the comments below if you feed the birds in the winter. Do you have any special food you use? What is your favorite thing about feeding the birds?

For your next read, check out 8 Tips to Save Your Sanity from the Birds Attacking Your Windows. 

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