For the Birds

December 29, 2010 6 Comments

 While we enjoy planting flowers and shrubs that the birds can enjoy during the summer, we also make sure they have plenty of food, shelter and water for the winter.  Birds use more energy in the winter to stay warm and make it through the very long nights. 

We put out sunflower seed since almost every bird loves that. We have also been putting out some peanuts and corn for the Blue Jays but other birds like them, too.  We put those either on the ground or in our flat feeder hanging from our “bird feeding station”.

Our bird feeding station handles a lot of traffic through the year.

We have suet feeders and Dwayne found a ball of suet with bird seed in it at the local Fareway meat counter.  Ask at your local groceries meat counter if they offer something similar.  Or you can just get the suet and add the bird seed yourself.  It may be a good way to get the kids involved in bird watching!

The suet ball with a downy woodpecker eating away.

To the left of the suet and a little down is our suet feeder for the square suet cakes. This one has attracted a red-bellied woodpecker.

Winter or summer, songbirds love to have cover. 

One of our spruces. The sparrows love it and I have seen the doves and cardinals in the branches as well.

When predators come by they need to have a place to escape to quickly. The predators in our yard mainly come in the form of neighborhood cats and a Coopers Hawk that swings by every so often.  They usually go off empty pawed or taloned, but every once in awhile we find the feathers of a bird that didn’t speed away in time. 

Birds also need water during the winter.  We have a heated birdbath that we attach to our deck.  This keeps it fairly close to the outdoor outlet.  Make sure you use an extension cord that is approved for outdoor use.  The instructions that come with the heated birdbath will tell you what kind to get.  We replace the water at least once a day and make sure to wipe it out every couple of days or whenever it looks like the birds have had too much fun in it. 

Our heated birdbath. The birds come to it often to have a bit of time at the spa.

In addition to the birdbath on the deck, we have a small tray feeder that we try to keep filled as well.  The birds don’t seem to mind getting fairly close to the glass doors and the cats love it…

What's on kitty tv today? Ooo. A Junco!

This is kitty tv. Clyde is on the left, Barney on the right.

This photo is from Doug Adelmund in Parkersburg. The cats were too busy, they wouldn't give me their names.

Make sure that you keep the feeders filled on a regular basis or the birds won’t keep flocking to your yard.

We need to refill the plug suet feeder and the cake suet feeders often.

The hopper feeder is nice because it has a little bit of a roof overhang, but snow needs to be cleared out of the seed holder every time it snows.

I found a nice website that includes a lot of bird feeding and watching information.  You can check it out yourself by clicking here.

And the Iowa State Extension service has a nice publication on Iowa Winter Birds.  Click on the name to get to it.

Filed in: Winter

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Comments (6)

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  1. JK says:

    You mentioned the suet balls, it seems like when I get them no one cares about them and I end up throwing them away.
    My feeders are being emptied very quickly however, by not birds but the deer. It’s a free for all buffet!

    • Eileen Loan says:

      I know you have to leave them out for awhile for the birds to find them. Maybe the deer are putting up signs that are keeping the birds out! “Antlered animals only”. I just read yesterday that suet doesn’t start to spoil until the temperature reaches 70 degrees. And there are times when it seems like the birds are ignoring our suet feeders, too. Maybe it depends on the day. I’ll see what I can find about discouraging the deer….

  2. JK says:

    Oh there’s no discouraging the deer. And I think your right, when I got home there was a sign that said just that “Antlered Animals Only”! LOL! I don’t care who comes to eat…it’s rather awesome to see Mr. Rabby and 5 deer standind together eating. God’s creatures!
    Thanks for the info about the suet ball, maybe I didn’t keep it out long enough.

  3. Rose Barlon says:

    I have a book entitled “Recipe Book for Feeding Wild Birds”. It tells how to render suet and make treats for the birds. The publisher is Zosma Publications. It is a small soft cover book. My daughter purchased this book in Galena.

  4. Pat Delagardelle says:

    Really enjoy it when you share pictures of your backyard bird feeding stations. If you watch your birds behavior you can predict when a storm will be moving in! Forget about all your scientific weather computers. Just watch your Birds!!
    And birdwatching is what you can do on a cold winters day when you’re stuck inside. Eileen, I invite you to come down to my bird feed store (Cedar River Milling) just outside Gilbertville to see the latest and most fun bird supplies in Northeast Iowa. Just asked Jeff Kennedy for directions! Keep up the good work, and happy birding!

    • Eileen Loan says:


      Thanks for the invite! I know exactly where it is. I will stop in one of these days… especially if I can drag Dwayne with me.

      I do watch the birds to see if the storm I think it going to be big actually prompts them to empty the feeders. They are pretty good about letting me know!

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