This article focuses on making homemade bird food to keep your feathered friends happy, healthy, and active during the coldest time of year.
Is Winter Bird Feeding Good for Birds?
Feeding the birds during the winter is important, as they need food and energy to survive. During the winter months, the availability of food for birds can become scarce. The ground may be covered with snow and many sources of food, such as insects and berries, may be hard to find.
When people provide food for birds in the winter, it helps them to survive and thrive. This is especially critical for migratory birds, who require the extra energy to continue their journey. By providing food for birds in the winter, people can help sustain bird populations and contribute to a healthy and diverse ecosystem.
To start feeding them, you should know which species are already visiting your garden because different birds have different tastes and favorite foods.
Once you’re feeding the birds you know, branch out with other types of feed and attract even more species of bird into your garden. During periods of bad weather, birds will come to rely on your feeders as an essential source of food. Easy-to-find and nutritious seed and fats will help your feathered friends conserve their energy—using it to keep warm rather than hunting down scarce berries and insects.
A few of the benefits of winter bird feeding include:
- Better survival of birds over winter
- Increased survival during periods of extreme weather
- Improved reproduction during the following breeding season
Are There Downsides to Feeding Winter Birds?
Unfortunately, there are potential risks associated with winter bird feeding. These include:
- Higher risk of death from diseases spread by contaminated food or feeders. In other words, it is essential that you periodically clean your birdfeeders.
- Higher risk of death from unnatural accidents (e.g., collisions with windows) or from predators attracted to the many birds concentrated in your backyard.
- Increased dependence on supplemental food, impairing a bird’s ability to use natural food. This can be partially mitigated by removing the feeders in the warm months, when natural food sources are plentiful.
When should I stop feeding my birds?
Feeding birds is a wonderful way to connect with nature. Feeders can provide a source of food for many birds when natural sources are scarce, or they can help keep birds coming back to your yard year after year.
But there are also times when you may want to take down your feeder.
Most birds don’t need your help in the late spring and summer. When they are nesting and rearing their young, many birds focus on eating insects, so feeding is less necessary at those times. It is also important for young birds to learn how to find naturally occurring foods, so take a break from filling feeders in the warmer months when natural food sources are plentiful.
Homemade Bird Food recipes
1) Pine Cone Feeder
Making pine cone bird feeders is one of the easiest treats you can make for your backyard birds. You only need 4 items: pine cones, string, peanut butter, and bird seed! Once you have all the necessary supplies, putting them together is as easy as can be. Just follow the directions below:
- Find some pine cones. Try using ones that are not closed tight. Open pine cones allow you the necessary area to spread on the peanut butter. See note below.
- Wrap the string in a tight loop around the top of the pine cone, leaving enough to tie it to a tree or pole.
- Coat the outside of the pine cone with peanut butter and then roll it in bird seed! Using smaller seeds will ensure that the seeds stick well, but larger seed mixes as well as black-oil sunflower seed will work if you work to press the seeds firmly into the peanut butter.
- Hang your feeder on a tree branch or pole and watch the birds enjoy their winter feast!
Note: How to open pine cones—Preheat the oven on its lowest setting. You don’t want the temperature to be any more than 200 degrees Fahrenheit (ca. 93 °C). Place the pan of pine cones in the oven to warm them and remove the moisture that causes them to stay closed. As the cones heat, they will begin to open.
2) Homemade Suet Cakes
Here’s an easy recipe for suet: a fat laden homemade bird food
- Blend 1 cup rendered fat and 1 cup chunky peanut butter together until they are smooth and liquid.
- Add 3 cups ground cornmeal and 1/2 cup white or wheat flour.
- Mix the ingredients well.
Try blending in seeds such as peanuts, sunflower seeds, and cracked corn or adding dried fruits, birdseed, or mealworms. Adding a variety of ingredients will broaden the appeal to include many types of seed-eating birds.
2) Corn & Mealworm Cake
This simple recipe for homemade bird food is easy to make and highly favored by backyard birds. If you want to give your feathered friends a special treat, save fat drippings in a jar in the freezer until you have enough to make this recipe and other homemade bird food recipes.
Try this bird food recipe—just place in mesh bags and hang outdoors!
- 3 cups (0.71 l) cornmeal
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 cup fat (meaning drippings or lard)
- 1 cup (0.24 l) meal worms
- 3 cups (0.71 l) water
Making homemade bird food is a great way to keep your feathered friends happy, healthy, and active during the coldest time of year. Not only is it cost-effective and easy to make, but it also allows you to customize the ingredients to suit the needs of the birds in your backyard. It can be both a fun and rewarding experience, and you can be sure that your birds will appreciate the effort you put into helping them get through the winter!
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