Top 3 Tips For Feeding Wild Birds in Winter

Wild birds

As the Winter Solstice approaches, the chances that cold weather will strike, even here in Florida, are increasing. Our Wild Bird populations typically count on their native habitats to provide food for the Winter – and increased fat and protein intake is essential for keeping birds warm.

But as their native habitats are being given over to development, and developed land is being wiped clean of their natural food sources (berries, insects, etc.), it’s a good idea to give wild birds a little helping hand, especially if you enjoy bird watching.

Today I’ll give you my Top 3 Tips for Feeding Wild Birds in Winter. Think of it as a holiday gift for your feathered friends.

For more information about feeding wild birds, you can take a look at my previous article on this topic, the Shell’s Feed Bird Food Guide.

Shells feed garden supply tampa florida bird feed feeders food seed fruit wild birds

Tip #1: Increase the number of wild bird feeders (and your stock of wild bird food)

Wild Birds needs MORE food to keep warm on cold days. They stay warm by retaining their body heat within their fluffed feathers. They generate body heat through movement, shivering (quick flexing & relaxing of muscles over and over again), and increasing their heart rate.

Birds burn fat and protein for warmth.

This activity of warming themselves burns more fat and uses up a lot of protein to keep them at optimal temperature, so having extra fat and protein calories available from you is super helpful to wild birds on those cold days.

One way to give them more food is to position more feeders in your yard. Add a few larger feeders this time of year so that you don’t have to refill as often.

wild birds bird feeder
One of the large feeders we carry at Shell’s!

Can birds survive without your help? Sure. Nature finds a way. But the benefits of feeding wild birds aren’t just for them, they’re for you too! The joy of watching these small creatures is immense – and better than television!

Shell’s has many kinds of feeders available for you!

There’s even a workshop this Saturday 12/14/19 from 9a-1p to decorate your own, and learn about what birds like which seeds too! Link below in the text.

wild birds decorate bird feeder workshop holiday

Attend our Holiday Maker’s Workshop this Saturday, December 14th, from 9a-1p (come any time during that time) to Decorate a Bird Feeder. See more details here. We’ll be showcasing our feeders and wild bird homes too, and letting you know about our Bulk Seed Weigh Station, where you can learn about making custom seed blends for your backyard critters!

Tip #2: Use Suet & All-Natural Peanut Butter as Wild Bird Supplements

Suet – a natural fat source

Adding more seed is great for wild birds, but during the coldest days of the year, additional fat is definitely helpful. Using suet – which is like lard, the remnants of beef fat after processing – and all natural peanut butter (NO ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS OR HONEY! TOXIC TO BIRDS!) is a great way to add extra fat to your feathered friends’ diets.

wild birds suet cage woodpecker
Red-headed woodpecker on a suet cage.

Commercial suet is the safest form of suet – it contains the proper ingredients to keep it from turning into a liquid a higher temperatures.

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Try one of these for your suet needs, brought to you by Kaytee:
Positively Peanut High-Energy Suet
Suet & Seed
Orange Harvest Suet
Cherry Harvest Suet
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In a state where the temperature can fluctuate nearly 60 degrees in a day (from freezing to the 80s isn’t uncommon, right?) commercially-produced suet blocks are the best bet. And here’s a cage to put it in.

Peanut Butter, Fat & Protein Source

For peanut butter, you can use things like pine cones to load up with a peanut butter and seed mix to place out into the yard – they’re easy to hang on tree limbs or from other feeders. There’s lots of recipes for peanut butter bird mixes online and ways to present them to the birds too.

wild birds peanut butter DIY pine cone
Pine cone filled with peanut butter and seeds

A couple of other fun DIY ideas:

wild birds apple bird feeder

Take an apple, cut it in half, scoop out the core, and fill with peanut butter and seed mix. Some birds really like fruit so nothing goes to waste! Place on a flat surface for birds to enjoy. Or, you can use the stem to hang it, or use a stainless steel screw and screw it in (it can be used again in the future!)

wild birds orange bird feeder
This also works with oranges & citrus fruits.

Another idea: Use a paper towel or toilet paper roll to coat with peanut butter, then roll it through a seed mixture. The more peanut butter you have on there the more seeds will stick to it. Then string a string through the tube and hang!

wild birds paper towel roll peanut butter seed feeder bird feeder
Make sure you get a custom seed mix from Shell’s for this! Make different ones for different birds!

Use a jar or tin can or an old coffee cup to make different variations of bird seed feeders!

wild birds coffee cup bird feeder
You can glue a matching saucer to the side of the cup to replace the stick for extra cuteness factor! Use STRONG super glue adhesive if you do this.

Tip #3: Wild Birds Need Consistent Access to Clean Water

Seems counter-intuitive to us, since we don’t typically bathe outside when it’s cold out, but birds require access to clean water on a consistent basis, not just for drinking, but for bathing too.

wild birds bird bath

Regular bathing keeps their feathers working properly, allows them to fluff and retain the heat that they generate to keep warm. If their feathers are not clean and fluffy, this doesn’t work.

Luckily for us here in Florida, we don’t usually get enough long cold freezes to ice over a bird bath or pond for long periods of time. But, you will need to still keep the water clean and debris-free during the winter so that your birdie friends can come take a sip, or a nice bath, whenever they need it.

Those are my Top 3 Tips for Feeding Wild Birds in Winter! I hope this was helpful to you.

We want you to share the love of bird watching with us! It could easily become your newest favorite past time.

wild birds mockingbird florida state bird
Mockingbird, the Florida State Bird.

We here at Shell’s have an extensive variety of seeds for your bird friends as well as different kinds of feeders for you to present that seed mix.

Our ever-popular Shell’s Wild Bird Mix (25 and 50 lb bags) has a great variety of seeds to attract the most colorful and lively birds to your feeders – an easy mix at a fantastic price! Order online and pick it up at the store, we’ll even load it for you. It comes in 25 and 50 pound bags – let us recommend a container to store the extras in to avoid attracting the wrong critters!

If you have questions about your birds, reach out to us! In store, on the phone, or leave a comment below – we’re here to help!

Until next time,

Marissa

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