Believe it or not, birds need to be fed throughout the winter months as well. The sight of colorful birds at your feeders isn't just to be enjoyed during the spring/summer months. In fact, it is even more important to provide a reliable food (and water) source for them in the winter, as naturally occurring fruits, plants and insects will not be available.
Whether you are experienced at bird or are just beginning here are are some popular items for bird feeders: Black-oil sunflower seeds provide more food per seed than other sunflower varieties and is very economical price-wise. Peanuts are a high-protein, high-energy food source. They should be shelled, dry-roasted and unsalted. Suet, a rendered fat product, is an excellent source of fast energy for birds. It should be noted that the more variety of foods you offer, the more species you are likely to attract.
A quality mixed seed (with little to no filler) is always a good bet. Look for a mix that contains mostly sunflower seeds, cracked corn, white millet and peanuts. Avoid varieties containing dyed seed, wheat or red milo. Small finches enjoy nyjer/this seed. It is expensive and requires a thistle feeder, but will attract a variety of smaller birds including goldfinches, house, purple and Cassin's finches, among others. Safflower is a good choice. It is enjoyed by a variety of birds, but squirrels don't seem too attracted by it. Cracked corn will attract practically any feeder species. You can can expect to see sparrows, jays, doves, quail and squirrels.
Mealworms (which are actually beetle larva) are an excellent source of protein for all bird species. These are kept live, under refrigerated conditions. Fresh fruits, such as grapes, citrus, apple and banana are an excellent treat as well.
To enjoy your yard birds year-round, simply continue to feed them. A variety of foods will attract a variety of birds, providing a flurry of activity during the cold days of winter. Don't forget the squirrels - they love dried corn on the cob. Give them their own feeder and take the proper steps to keep them out of your bird food - everyone will be happy!
Special thanks to Bill Thompson, III and birdwatchersdigest.com.