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GardenSMART :: Expert Tips to Provide Birds with Basic Needs to Weather Winter

Expert Tips to Provide Birds with Basic Needs to Weather Winter

By Cole's Wild Bird Products, Inc.
Photographs courtesy of Cole's Wild Bird Products, Inc.

Winter is prime time for attracting birds. Beckoning birds to your backyard in winter can be easier than in any other season if you provide what they need to weather and survive the coldest months.

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Scarcity of natural available food, cold temperatures and severe storms push bird mortality high all winter long. You can help birds meet their nutritional needs during wintertime, and will surely be rewarded with a diverse, frequent flock of feathered friends.

There's lots of bird feed to choose from, but some can contain low quality fill that birds just won't eat. Cole's wild bird feed offers a wide variety of seed, suet and specialty products specifically formulated to attract birds. Their entire line of products is all-natural; seed is top of the crop with absolutely no fillers, preservatives, mineral oils, or pesticides, so you can be sure you're giving your backyard birds the best in high quality, safe food choices they'll love.

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Birding expert Elaine Cole offers some timely tips to ensure birds in your backyard this winter season:

Food- Feeding birds is by far the simplest way to attract them. Adding the best winter bird food choices to your feeders when the temperature drops will give birds the extra energy they need to survive even the worst weather. Foods high in oil and fat are the most popular winter picks.

* Black oil sunflower seeds– Seeds have slightly thinner shells and a higher oil content than other types of sunflower seeds, making them a more efficient and nutritious food. Offer them in platform, tube or hopper feeders to attract a wide range of hungry birds.

* Suet – For maximum calories, suet is an optimum winter food choice. Cole's offers no-melt suet cakes as well as suet specialty feed blends adding nuts, seeds and other enticing elements into the suet.

* Peanuts – From jays and titmice to nuthatches and chickadees, many backyard birds love this high-calorie, fat-rich nut. Because peanuts don't freeze, they're perfect for winter feeding.

* Niger – Also known as thistle seed, is a favorite food for winter finches such as pine siskins, redpolls, and goldfinches. Another oily seed that offers lots of calories, niger helps birds store fat they need to keep warm.

* Fruit – Many songbirds that favor fruit migrate in winter, but many other birds that stay in snowy areas year-round will also enjoy the treat. Offer chopped apples, orange wedges, or banana slices on platform feeders, spikes, or nailed to trees.

* Seed mixes – For convenient and economical winter-feeding, nothing beats a good-quality birdseed mix. While birds can probably tell a good mix just by looking at it, humans cannot. Choose a mix that features large proportions of sunflower seeds and millet, but avoid mixes with large proportions of unappetizing fillers such as wheat, milo and corn. Birds will pick out the yummy stuff and leave the filler – and a big mess – behind.

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Water- Fresh, liquid, moving water using birdbath spritzers or fountains will readily attract many backyard birds in winter. Add a heater to your water supply and you'll be surprised at the number of birds that use it.

Shelter- A cozy place to roost will keep your backyard birds secure and comfortable even in the worst weather. Bird roost boxes and other shelters are essential to protect small birds from frigid, dropping temperatures.

Serve safely- Just as backyard birds may be more desperate during the lean times of winter, so are predators such as cats and hawks. Position bird feeders in a safe place to protect them and pay attention to prints in the snow to learn what predators may be threatening your feeders. By providing for birds' basic needs in cold weather you can easily attract them to your yard in winter. You'll enjoy their company even when the weather is at its worst. Learn about seed mixes at


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