Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Providing for Birds in the Winter by Donna Duffy

Black-capped Chickadee, photo courtesy birds

Many different kinds of birds make their home along the Front Range of Colorado, and it doesn't take much cost or effort to attract and feed them. Joe Julian, CSU Horticulture, offers the following tips for winter feeding of birds in Colorado.

Black Oil Sunflower Seed, photo courtesy

Black oil sunflower seed is one of the preferred foods for many wild birds including finches, chickadees, pine siskins and others. Sunflower seeds that fall to the ground also will attract juncos, jays and woodpeckers. If you don’t like the messy sunflower shells, look for chipped sunflower hearts.

Photo courtesy

Flickers, woodpeckers, chickadees and nuthatches, are attracted to suet. You can purchase a special feeder that holds blocks of suet or you can collect large pine cones, which then can be dipped in liquid fat (melted suet) or stuffed with peanut butter.

Be aware that if you start feeding in the fall, birds may not come to the feeder right away while they still can find plenty of natural food in the environment. Once the first significant snow occurs, however, birds will flock to your feeder and you will need to be diligent to keep the feeders full.

If you want a greater variety of wild birds to visit your backyard and feeders, provide water throughout the winter. Birds will use a water source for drinking and bathing. You can provide water by using a simple, shallow dish and placing it in a location safe from predators, such as cats. 

Photo courtesy humane

Be sure to clean and scrub the water source at least weekly on the inside with dish soap or laundry detergent. Be sure to remove all the soap before refilling the birdbath with water. A birdbath heating device will keep the water from freezing, providing a constant source of clean water in the coldest weather.

For more information, check out CSU's publication, Providing for Birds in the Winter.