For many people, winter signifies the time to put out bird feeders and bring nature closer in your backyard. This interaction enhances appreciation for nature and engages us in learning about birds and their needs, but also can lead to increased psychological well-being. When done properly, supplementing local birds with seeds and suet can help increase their survival, especially in harsh winters.
If you are feeding feathered friends it’s important to treat them like we do human friends and ensure everything is just right:
- Don’t let your feeders spread disease. Weekly, scrub debris off feeders and then soak for 10 minutes in a diluted bleach solution. Visit for more tips!
- Look at your house’s windows from the feeder distance. If you see branches or sky reflected in them, this could cause window collisions. Make your windows bird friendly!
- Keep your cat indoors. Outdoor and feral cats contribute to millions of bird deaths in Canada and around the world. Encourage your neighbours to do the same to reduce songbird predation.
- Know your guests. Each species has different needs. Research food and feeder types to best suit the birds in your backyard!
- Use high-energy foods like black-oil sunflower seeds and suet. It may cost more up-front, but will save down the road as often filler seeds (such as millet, oats, wheat, and flax) will go uneaten and could lead to the growth of bacteria if left too long.
- Feed birds naturally! By gardening with native plants that produce seeds, cones, and fruit, you can provide food for winter birds while also creating habitat year round for many species! Check out the Best for the Biosphere plant list for ideas!
What birds have you been seeing this winter? Join Project Feederwatch to contribute to citizen science!