While other animals hibernate or migrate for the chilly winter months, many species of birds stay behind. Attracting them to your yard can be a fantastic highlight to your gloomy winter days. Different birds are drawn in by different settings and snacks, so read on to find out what you need to provide for them to enjoy the best daily bird show possible. Here are some of the birds that you can attract to the winter landscapes of Indiana.
Bold and beautiful, you cannot miss a cardinal! Their bright red plumage and sweet songs are unforgettable. Cardinals are special because both males and females sing, and they have different songs for different times of the day. They are basically the opera singers of the bird world! Cardinal food packs in a lot of energy to nourish these large birds. You’ll find success if you put out peanuts, corn, acorns, and beechnuts. They also love snacking on grapevines, blueberries, and hawthorns. Cardinals also need a bit of shelter and protection from predators and the elements. Thick vines, shrubbery, or evergreens will make your yard more inviting to them.
Sparrows are the tried and true winter guest! While often overlooked for being common, sparrows come in many different beautiful varieties, and they are easy to attract. Sparrows aren’t especially picky, and most assortments of wild bird food will keep them coming back for more. Their top choices are millet, cracked corn, and sunflower seeds. They prefer feeding from the ground or from a flat surface as opposed to a hanging feeder. Once you provide the right food for sparrow, grackles and other winter birds will follow suit.
Finches and Chickadees
Finches and chickadees are amongst the smallest winter birds you’ll attract during the winter. Finches come in many beautiful varieties in shades of gold, purple, brown, and more. The most common type of winter chickadee is identifiable by its little black-capped head. Both chickadees and finches are very acrobatic and entertaining birds. They are known to take baths even on the coldest days. If you’re looking to stock up on finch food, these stunt-pulling birds love eating out of a screen or mesh sock feeder with nyjer seed, sunflower seeds, and millet. They’ve also been known to snack on suet. You can also sprinkle food on the ground as some species like to forage in the dirt for their food.
These big blue bullies may scare off some of the smaller birds, but they are truly something to behold when they arrive in your yard. They have an incredibly complex social system and are fiercely protective of their young. Their calls are memorable and hard to miss. Bluejay food includes peanuts, corn, beechnuts, suet, and acorns. If you want to attract Blue Jays, they prefer tray or platform feeders. They are known for their fondness of acorns and are unintentionally responsible for the planting of many oak trees!
You will often hear a woodpecker before you see it. Catching a glimpse of one feels like a magical experience. Every winter, they chisel out a hole in a tree so that they have a safe and warm place to hunker down. If you do spot one, it will likely be a Downy or Hairy Woodpecker. Invite them closer by hanging suet feeders. Common woodpecker foods contain black oil sunflower seeds, nuts, millet, and, just like humans, they love chunky peanut butter.
If you see a tiny streak of blue against the pale white snow, you may have just spotted a bluebird. The best thing you can do to attract them to your yard is setting out dishes of live mealworms. Most of a bluebird’s diet consists of bugs and berries, but if that’s not up your alley, you can try no-mess seed blends or bark butter, which is a type of suet. They can sometimes be territorial, so be aware that they may set up shop in your birdhouse and not allow for any other bird visitors.
Things to Watch When Attracting Winter Birds:
Predators: Hawks, owls, and even neighborhood cats may prey on unsuspecting birds in your yard. Try putting mesh and wire around your feeders for a layer of protection. Ensure there is ample foliage that smaller species can hide in and keep feeders far enough away from those trees and shrubs to protect them from lurking carnivores. Keep in mind that we humans are also seen as predators! Ensure feeders are not placed too close to windows, as birds are likely to fly into them in their excitement.
Food Thieves: Squirrels are notorious for clambering up anywhere and stealing your bird’s food. You can deter them by adding cayenne pepper into the seeds (birds can’t detect spice!), greasing the pole if the feeder is on top of one, or using an aerosol spray deterrent. Alternatively, try adding a stockpile of squirrel corn far away from your feeders to distract squirrels from your bird food!
Attracting winter birds is a wonderful way to add some color and song to the dreary months. Remember that once you start feeding your neighborhood birds, you’ll need to continue providing your new friends with plenty of food to survive the winter. If you’re looking for supplies and bird feeders in Saint John, IN or Frankfurt, IL, please shop our site or come visit us—we’d love to help!