Contrary to popular belief, not all of our winged companions fly south for the winter. Some of them hang around all year long. This means that they might use a little extra help finding food and water during the colder months of the year.
Most of the birds that stick around for winter will be seed eaters. (Think about it, fruit and insects are not very abundant during the cold months). So, a good choice for food is black oil sunflower seed, or even better, safflower seeds (squirrels and grackles don’t like it!). The best place to put your feeder for the winter? Wherever you can see it from the warmth and comfort of your favorite room in the house! Position various feeders at different heights to attract a wider variety of birds. Also, try to place the feeder somewhere that it has some shield from gusty winter winds.
Providing water in the winter will make your backyard especially attractive to birds. In winter it is particularly hard to come by water in liquid form. By keeping a heater in your birdbath, you will provide your birds with a much-needed place to drink and bathe. Birds bathe to keep their feathers in good condition. In the winter, birds fluff up their feathers to act as insulation to keep themselves warm.
Be patient, it may take several weeks before you see any birds at your winter feeders. So long as you have clean, full feeders, chances are the birds will find them. Another tip is to avoid filling feeders with mixed birdseed from your local grocery store. These mixed bags often contain filler seed that birds won’t even eat. The filler seed will end up making a mess on the ground under your feeder, and your birds will go elsewhere to find better food.
An important thing to know is that in the fall, many birds are noting where they can find food and water. This means that what you are doing in October/November in your backyard may determine how many visitors you get once winter actually hits. Just remember, your birds appreciate what you do for them all year long, but even more so in the winter months.