Here on Long Island there are many species of birds that do not head south for the winter. They choose to stay here on the Island and must take advantage of any available food sources and shelters they can find in order to survive. Providing food, water and shelter in the winter will help sustain the bird population and provide hours of enjoyable bird watching for you and your family.
What Birds Will I See Now?
Since many trees and shrubs have dropped their leaves for the winter, it is can be a lot easier to spot the birds that have stayed with us in these colder months. Perching song birds are a common bird species that can be readily found here. This includes Chickadees, Cardinals, Tufted Titmouse, Sparrows, and Juncos. There are also woodpeckers, owls, finches and many others.
Providing Food & Water
During cold winter months such as January it is very important that we help birds to survive. You can lend a hand by hanging simple tube-style bird feeders full of fresh seed in your yard. And honestly, watching the birds feed is always entertaining. I suspend the feeder from a shepherd hook placed away from the house or the trees as not to invite squirrels. The type of seed you choose will often determine the majority of the birds attracted to your feeder. I use a high quality general mix to attract a wide variety of birds. In this fashion I can enjoy seeing a multitude of birds at my feeders. But if you want to attract small birds only, I would recommend nyjer seed or hulled sunflower. Both of these are highly attractive to small birds and provide a high amount of protein to aid in the birds’ survival. Another type of bird food to use in the winter is suet. Suet is animal fat often with bird seed in it. The birds seem to love this source of highly useable protein. One other treat I put out is fruit. Apple slices or pieces of orange are always welcomed by the birds. And don’t forget about water! In the morning I put out a large plant saucer of water for the birds to enjoy. If it’s really cold the water might freeze – but there are birdbath heaters for that.
Another big help for birds in the winter is some sort of shelter. A clean bird house placed not too far from your feeders will be welcomed by your feathered friends. I use foam to plug any holes that might allow a draft in. Then I put a thin layer of saw dust on the floor of the bird house as additional insulation. Attach your house to a steady post with the entrance pointing away from prevailing winds. And try to place the house so that it catches the afternoon sunshine.
Tip: Place any branches that you prune out of your landscape or that naturally fall out of the trees in a pile under the feeder. This will act as a shelter from predators while the birds are feeding.
So there you have it. Give the birds what they need in the winter and they will stick around in the spring and summer to help you with insect control during those warm months when you’re glad to be outdoors.