When the snow is feet deep on the ground and the temperatures are below zero for extended periods of time during our winter months, our feathered friends who have not migrated enjoy the fresh seeds, suet and water we provide. It is a commitment as the birds become accustomed to the readily available food especially in severe winter weather.
Feeders for Wild Birds
Many of the birds in our yard live in the area all year, keeping our gardens insect and bug free during the summer months. We refill the feeder once it is empty and any seed on the ground has been eaten (unless it is hidden under the snow). We do keep the area under the feeders as clear as possible for the different varieties of birds who love to forage on the ground.
We also have specific bird feeders and food such as
- Sunflower seeds for chickadees
- Small black "grass" seed for finches
- A “mix” of seed for the others such as sparrows
- Suet for the myriad of finches and woodpeckers
Protection for Birds
The multitude of birds in the yard also attracts predatory birds like hawks and crows and surprisingly even a young bald eagle. It is advisable to have ample trees nearby for the smaller birds to find protection. A holly tree is a great sanctuary for the smaller birds as I have seen a hawk, unsuccessfully, try to fly into one chasing the sparrows.
There is not the variety of birds in the winter but we see many chickadees, sparrows, finches, flickers and blue jays and we have 2 or 3 resident robins who are having a very difficult time now with deep snow and the minus mid teen temperatures we have had for almost a week.
Bird Feeder Advice
- When installing feeders (from trees) try to hang them as far as possible from the tree trunk and high off the ground to prevent squirrels from jumping on to the feeders
- Suspend the feeders on long wires for the same reason
- Feeders should be cleaned at least monthly – use a mild soap solution and rinse and dry well
- Metal feeder trays can freeze birds feet in winter is an "urban myth"
- We hang the feeders from trees in the corners of the back yard between two high hedges allowing maximum wind and weather protection and shelter
- If space permits plant a mountain ash (for berries) and a holly tree (for nesting and protection)
- We keep up two bird baths with fresh water – difficult in freezing winter weather
- We continue (but cut back) to feed the birds during the summer months as we have nesting birds in the yard
- Remember bird seed is an attractant for raccoons and squirrels, pine martens and bears if they are in the area
The many birds in our yard give us joy, laughter and entertainment all year round.
Links & References
- More on how to help our feathered friends
- Annas Hummingbirds - a memorable visit
Thank you for sharing this blog entry about feeding small birds in winter – in southern British Columbia. I’ve got to get cool new ideas and tips. Keep your posts coming! Will definitely read them all. 😉
I have a concerning question regarding our neighborhood wild birds. We have feeders out in the winter time, and still today, but in the last month or so we have observed very lethargic small chickadees, bushtits and sparrows. They are so dorment that they walk around in flower beds and cats just walk up to them lazily, and slowly grabs them by the head, even as they are in the cats mouth they dont resist or fight for their life.
Can you tell me what is wrong with these birds.
At the same time we have house finches feeding off the same feeders and they are very active and chase all other birds away from the feeders.
Can you help us solve this problem_
We are a coop by Renfrew and Grandview Highway in East Vancouver, B.C.
Thank you and sincerely yours
There could be many reasons for this. Currently I am writing an article on wild bird health so please check back in a couple of weeks. Thanks.