Bird Feeder Fun this Winter
This winter, you can help pass the cold days with a bird feeder in your yard. Bird feeders can attract a range of birds that are interesting to watch while supporting local wildlife. We call our bird feeder “Cat TV” as our indoor kitty loves to watch the many birds that come to snack outside his favourite window. He’ll never catch one, but he loves to squeak and wiggle as the birds dine at the feeder.
Your local hardware or home renovation store will have a selection of feeders for your yard. Platform, hopper and tube feeders are common options. Platform feeders are just that—a flat open platform birds can stand on. Hopper feeders are commonly box shaped and protect seeds from rain and snow. Easy to use, they can also attract squirrels. Tube feeders typically have small perches, are good for smaller birds, and are harder for squirrels to get into.
Where to Put Your Feeder
Whatever feeder you pick, place it near trees and shrubs and make sure you can reach it year-round for easy filling. Also, make sure it’s in a spot where you can see it from a window and enjoy watching the birds feed. Keep it far enough away to prevent birds from colliding into your windows.
What to Feed
• Black-oil sunflower seeds are the easiest option and work with platform, hopper and tube feeders. Purple finches, cardinals, goldfinches, grosbeaks, juncos, chickadees and nuthatches love sunflower seeds.
• Nyjer (thistle) seeds are popular with finches. You can by Nyjer seed socks or bags to hang outside for easy feeding.
• Unsalted peanuts are a hit with jays, nuthatches, woodpeckers and chickadees.
• Suet is a block of animal-fat mixed with seeds, nuts and dried fruit. The block is placed in a wire box and placed outside in the winter (remove it when the weather warms up). Hang it from a branch, and watch chickadees, nuthatches, woodpeckers and other birds that eat insects enjoy it.
• When buying bird seed mixes, look for good quality blends for prairie birds. Look for mixes with sunflower seeds, nuts, white millet and corn.
• To get a good mix of birds, have two or more feeders with different types of food.
Regularly thoroughly wash and dry your feeders (once or twice a month) and ensure bird seed is not spoiled. Be sure to make sure your feeders are full and accessible to birds during snowfall and after heavy snowfalls.
Watch for squirrels. They might be cute, but they can be pesky. Squirrel baffles can help keep them away from your seed.
Record Your Visitors
Once your feeders are installed and filled, be sure to watch who is coming by for a meal. Take photos and get to know the species that are visiting your feeders.
Beyond the typical house sparrows, other species that overwinter in Saskatchewan include downy woodpecker, northern flicker, northern shrike, cedar waxwing, gray jay, black-capped chickadee, red-breasted nuthatch, snow bunting, dark-eyed junco and evening grosbeak.
Bird feeding is a simple and fun way to support local wildlife and help reduce declining bird populations. Install a feeder and see who you can attract to your yard. You might be surprised who stops by!