By Iris Gestram, Executive Director of the Willowsford Conservancy
The winter season can be tough on birds especially when days are cold and windy. Most of their edible vegetation has disappeared, is frozen or covered in snow, and insect populations have perished or become dormant. Foraging for food in these conditions can be difficult and finding food is a matter of survival.
Backyard birdfeeders are a great way to attract and watch birds at home while making their life a little easier during the winter. Some of the birds that remain over the winter include Woodpeckers, Blue Jays, Titmouse, Chickadees, Finches, Starlings and Cardinals. Most of these birds prefer black oil sunflower seeds (blue jays/chickadees/cardinals/titmouse) or suet with fruit/nut (woodpeckers/song birds). October and November are a great time to collect and use your pumpkin seeds. Just dry them out, grind them a little in your food processor to break the shells, and place them in the feeder.
Tube feeders work well and are harder for squirrels to hang on to. It is recommended to place feeders close to your home, within 3 feet of windows. This will help birds notice the glass and not fly as fast when they approach the feeder. It also has the benefit of giving you a great view of the feeder. If feeding birds in winter, continue to use a feeder consistently until April, when natural foods become abundant again.
A few housekeeping notes:
Willowsford Ramblings is a blog by Willowsford, a community of new single-family homes in Loudoun County, Northern Virginia.