Feeding Backyard Birds in Winter

Did you know that birds form flocks in the winter because it is easier to find food and protection from predators as a flock? As winter approaches birds change their eating habits.  As the days grow short and the temperature drops, their natural food supply diminishes.  The insects that were available in the summer are no longer available; water is frozen and high energy food scarce.

 

Here are some tips to help feed your backyard birds.

 

1.  Hang your feeder out of the wind.  The side of a house on the east or southeast works best.   

2.  Use a suet feeder.  Suet is a high enery food that replenishes depleted stores of energy and nutrients.  Remember birds need extra energy to keep warm in the winter months.

3.  Use a seed feeder filled with Black Oil Sunflower Seed as a source of high quality protein and oil that has a high calorie/ounce ratio.  The thin outer shell is easier for smaller wild birds to eat.

4.  Provide a source of water.  Bird baths are perfect for this, but remember it has to be kept unfrozen in order to help the birds.  Use a heater or heated birdbath to accomplish this.

Providing Your Backyard Birds with Water

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When creating a backyard habitat for birds, it is essential to provide your backyard birds with access to fresh water.

Not only do birds need water for drinking and hydration, but they also need water for bathing and cooling off. Birds cool themselves off by breathing. The more they breathe, the more moisture is taken from their lung tissue.

By providing birds with a clean source of water, you are sure to attract more birds to your yard because clean water is more scarce then food.

Birds get water from a variety of sources such as food, dew on grass, or surface water. A great way to offer your backyard birds clean, fresh water is to set up a bird bath in your yard. A bird bath should be at least a foot in diameter for offering drinking water.

Choose a bigger bird bath (2 or 3 feet in diameter) if you wish to attract multiple birds to bathe in the water. A shallow bird bath (less than 3 inches) is ideal because birds like to wade in the water and may be frightened away if they feel the bird bath is too deep.

A light colored bath is also reassures the birds that the water is not too deep.

One of our favorite bird baths is the Water Rippling Bird Bath by Allied Precision. This birdbath is 17 ½ inches in diameter, light colored, and shallow (only 2.5 inches deep). A great feature of this bath is the water wiggler, which helps prevent mosquitoes from laying their eggs in the water. Your backyard birds will love the clean, fresh water that this bath offers.

Once you have chosen a suitable birdbath, always remember to keep it filled with water, especially in the summer months when the temperature gets hot.

Birdbaths can dry up easily without regular filling. Your backyard birds will start depending on the clean water source and may look for another source if you don’t maintain the water in the birdbath.

 

Are You a Bird Watcher? Get a Hanging Bird Bath!

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It is no secret that birds are attracted to clean water.  Not only do birds require plenty of water to survive, but they also love bathing.  Bird baths combine these two needs of birds.  If you are an avid bird watcher like myself, you absolutely must have a bird bath in your yard. With bird baths, it is very important that you regularly change the water, as well as regularly wash the bath.  Birds will not visit a bird bath that is unclean.  The whole point of them visiting a bird bath is to get some clean drinking water and to clean themselves, so if your bird bath’s water is not fresh, you can bet birds will not be stopping by!

My absolute favorite type of bird bath is a hanging bird bath.  The reason is because you can hang them from trees, so it is easy for you to place them near areas that birds frequent.  Birds, especially timid birds, feel safe and sheltered under trees, making these baths appealing to them.  Another reason I like hanging bird baths is because hanging birdbaths usually have multiple levels of deepness which will attract a variety of birds.  Small songbirds are not likely to visit deep bird baths, but with hanging bird baths they get a shallow step.  Hanging bird baths are usually shallowest around the edge, and then gradually become deeper towards the center.

Many hanging baths are quite pleasant to look at, serving as a nice accent piece for your backyard.  Here are a couple hanging bird baths that I really like:

  • I have the Hanging Bird Bath by Zoobox, pictured to the right.  This is the perfect bird bath to hang in a tree.  As you can see from the picture, the Hanging Bird Bath by Zoobox has three levels of deepness.  One great aspect to his bath is that it has a textured finish which will allow birds to grip the floor with their feet.  The edge has perches which will allow birds to just stop by and have a drink of water if they do not want to get in the bath.
  • Another attractive hanging bird bath is the Birdscapes Lily Bird Bath with Reservoir.  This bird bath is decorated with butterflies, leaves, flowers, and dragonflies.  The entire bath, including the chains, has a deep green finish.  The best part about the Birdscapes Lily Bird Bath with Reservoir is that the reservoir in the center can hold up to 32 ounces of water, meaning that you will not have to refill this bath as often as others.
  • The Aqua Hanging Birdbath is a wonderfully bright blue hanging bath.  It has three levels of deepness, and has a textured surface so birds will not slip.  If yellow is more your style, you can get this bird bath in yellow (Bright Yellow Hanging Birdbath).

Preventing Mosquitoes from Bothering your Backyard Birds

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If you live in a warmer climate, you are probably already being bothered by mosquitoes.  If you live in a colder climate, you have about another month before mosquitoes start to take over! Unfortunately for birds, mosquitoes can bite them too.  You know how annoying mosquitoes are, so do your backyard birds a favor and keep them away!  There are a variety of ways to prevent mosquitoes from visiting your backyard.

First, make sure there is no stagnant water in your backyard.  Mosquitoes are drawn to water because they can lay their eggs there, which means there could be even more mosquitoes visiting your backyard.  If you have any containers that can collect rain water in your yard, be sure to remove them or turn them over so they can not collect water.  If you have bird baths, make sure you change the water every day so that if any mosquitoes have laid eggs, you can quickly get rid of them!

To get rid of any larvae or eggs that have been laid in stagnant water, you can use Mosquito Plunks – 0.2 oz / 24 pouches.  You can take one pouch of this mosquito killing pesticide and drop it into a container of water of up to 50 square feet of water.  It will kill eggs and larvae for up to 2 whole weeks.  It will not harm any animals, including birds or fishes.  If you have larger bodies of water, like pools, you could get Mosquito Dunks, which are doughnut shape disks that have a pesticide in them that kills eggs and larvae.  One doughnut Mosquito Dunk will last for up to a month.

Another way to get rid of mosquitoes is to attract bats to your yard.  Bats can eat up to 3,000 insects a night, meaning that the number of mosquitoes in your backyard will dramatically decrease once you invite bats over.  A great way to do this is to get a bat house.  The Cedar Bat Shelter, pictured above, can hold up to 20 bats at once.  The cedar wood will make a comfy home for your neighborhood bats!  For an added bonus, mosquiotes hate the smell of cedar.

A fun way to prevent mosquitoes from infesting your yard is to plant flowers and herbs that have strong smells that repel mosquitoes.  Some examples are mint, marigold, garlic, or lemongrass.  Basically, the more smelly it is, the more likely it will be to repel mosquitoes!

Attract Birds With the Sound of Running Water!

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The difference between a bird stopping at your yard or passing by could be the sound of flowing water!  This is true for all birds, but hummingbirds in particular are drawn to the sound of rippling water.  This attraction to water is definitely limited to soft, quiet sources of water.  A huge waterfall or a noisy fountain is not appealing to birds at all.  A gently flowing fountain or a gently rippling pond is perfect.

Getting the sound of running water in your backyard is easier than you might think.  Simply put a tool like the Water Wiggler for Bird Baths into your backyard bird bath.   This little tool creates ripples in the water, which creates a very appealing sound for birds. It operates silently, so it will in mo way disturb or scare birds away.  The Water Wiggler for Bird Baths operates on two D batteries, and you leave it on 24 hours a day.  It is so simple to use, there is no plumbing or wiring!  You can even use it in a heated bird bath for the winter.

If you do not want to worry about replacing batteries, you can get the Solar Water Wiggler for Bird Baths.  All you need to do is make sure your bird bath is placed in an area that is exposed to the sun during the majority of the day.  It also runs 24 hours a day, as the Solar Water Wiggler will run at night on the solar energy it stores during the day.

An added bonus to using a Water Wiggler is that that rippling water prevents mosquitoes from laying eggs!  In turn, it can also prevent the West Nile Virus from spreading.  While rippling water is healthier than stagnant water, you will still need to make sure you clean out your bird bath often.  Birds know the difference between clean, fresh water and water that isn’t as fresh.  They are unlikely to visit filthy water, even if it is making a pleasant flowing noise.

Bird Bath Heaters For Winter Bird Watching!

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You might not think to put out a bird bath in your backyard for the winter, but birds still need to bathe in the winter!  Birds do not need to bathe as much in the winter as they do in the summer, as  they can usually go a longer time without washing themselves.  However, birds still need, and enjoy, taking baths in the winter.

If you enjoy bird watching like I do, I would recommend that you put a bird bath in your backyard during the winter months.  I have for the past couple of winters, and plenty of birds consistently come to my house to bathe themselves.  They also used the bird bath as a source of drinking water.

Unless you want to pour boiling water into your summer bird bath a couple of times a day, you have some much easier options for winter bird baths!  One good idea is to get a bird bath that can serve as a heated bird bath in the winter, and a regular bird bath for the summer.  If you go this route, there are a variety of heated bird baths to choose from.  In the summer, you just won’t turn on the heat source.

Personally, instead of purchasing a heated bird bath, I decided to purchase a bath heater.  The brand I bought is the Blue Devil 300 Watt Bird Bath Heater.  I simply put the thermostat in my commercial bird bath, and it heats the water from anywhere from 40 degrees to 50 degrees.  This particular heater can be used on a variety of types of bird baths, anywhere from plastic to pottery to concrete.  All you have to do is plug the heater it in an outlet, and place it in the bath.  When warm weather arrives you store it until next winter.

A couple things to keep in mind is that not only will birds use the bird baths for bathing, but they will use it for drinking water.  Just like you would in the summer, it is important to wash and refill the bird baths often.  Never put any chemicals in the water.  Do not even think about using antifreeze in a winter bird bath.  Also, birds have the option to obtain drinking water from snow, but if there is no snow on the ground there are usually not many other sources of fresh water.  Try to refill your bird bath often as birds will come to depend on your supply of fresh water.

Attract Birds to Your Yard by Offering Fresh Water

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A great way to get more bird into your yard is to offer the bird fresh water on a daily basis.  Birds need to drink fresh water every day and also enjoy taking a dip in the water to clean themselves.  An easy way to provide the birds with fresh water on a regular base is to place  or hang a birdbath in your yard.   Use a birdbath that is shallow and easy for the birds to locate.  The ideal birdbath should be around 12 inches or larger in diameter and have a bottom that is easy for the birds to see how shallow it is.   Place your birdbath in a location that is easy for the birds to see and access.  A good place to place your birdbath is away from your home and in a location where birds can easily flee if needed.  Once you have placed your birdbath in a location that is best for the birds, keep it filled with fresh water on a regular basis.

One of my favorite birdbaths is the Hanging Bird Bath with Misterby Zoobox International.  This birdbath has steps for the birds to wade in the water and it is easy for the birds to see how shallow the water is.  It comes with a mister that runs on solar power and continually sprays a fine mist of water that birds love to bath in.  It is available in a variety of colors and red is the best for attracting hummingbirds. 

Another great birdbath by Zoobox International is the Multi-Level Octagonal Birdbath.  This free-standing birdbath is a light color and varied tiers that make it easy for birds to see the water depth.  It has the look of expensive stone, but not the weight of stone because it is made of fiberglass.

Deck Mounted Bird Baths that are Perfect for Year Round Use

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Treat your backyard birds to a fresh drink of water with a convenient deck mounted bird bath.  A deck mounted bird bath is easy to install to your deck and is great for attracting birds to your yard all year long.  When using a deck mounted bird bath in the winter, it is a good idea to get one that is heated or if you have a decorative deck mounted bird bath, you can add a bird bath heater to it during the winter.

One of my favorite heated bird baths is the Heated Bird Bath – Easy Tilt to Clean by Allied Precision.  This durable and attractive bird bath makes a great year round bird bath because it heats up during the winter to prevent the water from freezing over and is wide enough for the birds to take a bath a year long.  Birds will be attracted to the light color and enjoy having a bath or taking a drink in the bird bath.

Another great heated bird bath is the Heated Deck Bird Bath by Farm Innovators.  This shallow bird bath has a terracotta to help attract the birds to your yard and does not use a lot of electricity.  The cord may be concealed for use during the summer and the bird bath has a diameter of 14 inches, which is perfect for both bathing and drinking. 

A simple and economical deck mounted bird bath is the Audubon Deck-Mounted Bird Bath.  This simple, deck mounted bird bath may be used year round with the use of a bird bath heater such as the Economical Birdbath Deicer by Farm Innovators.   Birds love the shallowness of this bird bath and it is easy for the birds to drink from. Mounting the bird bath is easy and quick and the birds will be attracted to your yard.

Keep Your Bird Bath Water Warm with a Heater

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Finding a source of warm water for birds during the winter is critical for their survival.  An easy way to provide birds with water during the winter is to use a heated bird bath or a bird bath heater in your bird bath.  By offering a source of fresh water for the birds during the winter, you will not only be helping the birds to thrive, but will also attract more birds to your yard.

A classic bird bath that looks great in any yard is the Heated Bird Bath with Stand.  This stylish and streamline bird bath has a sturdy, weatherproof stand with a white basin.  The white basin is ideal for attracting birds because they will be able to see the bottom and it blends in well with the snow.  The heater in the bird bath is designed to keep the water from freezing in temperatures up to -20 degrees.  This bird bath also includes hardware for mounting it to your deck.

The Heated Ground BirdBath – 70 Watts is a fun and unique way to offer the birds with water.  This bird bath is designed to sit on the ground to provide birds with easy access to warmer water.  The unique shape of this feeder looks great in a garden, flower bed, or placed on your lawn.  It blends in well with any rock formation and looks like a real rock.  The birds will love the shallowness of the bird bath.

If you are just looking for a heating element to place inside your bird bath, choose one like the Heated Rock Bird Bath De-icer -75 Watts to warm up your bird bath water and keep it from freezing over.  This de-icer is thermostatically controlled to work when the temperature drops below 35 degrees.  Made of cast aluminum to be durable and weather resistant, this de-icer has a great rock shape that blends in well with any bird bath.

Keeping a supply of fresh water for the birds during the winter is important for the survival of birds and helps to attract them to your yard.  For a great selection of heated bird baths and bird bath heaters, check out Rachel’s Robin.