Winter Bird Feeding Ideas

Winter Bird Feeding Ideas

December 4, 2023  |  Bird Feeding, Ohio Birds, Winter

We all love feeding birds, and this beloved hobby does not have to stop during the winter. Winter bird feeding is a discipline all its own and many birds rely on food from your feeders during the coldest months.  

Begin the winter bird feeding process by noting which birds are coming to feed in your yard and how they differ from those that come in spring, summer, and fall. Research which types of foods those birds eat and start filling your bird feeders with the types of food that will attract the birds you want.  

Looking for some tips to get your garden ready for winter? Click here! 

Bird feeders are especially essential during periods of bad weather or during times when snow is heavy on the ground. This blog is designed to help you discover what types of birds might be in your neighborhood this winter, what kind of bird food you should put out this winter for those birds, and some things you should avoid for winter bird feeding. Keep reading to learn more! 

Two birds in a bird feeder

What Kind of Birds Are in Ohio During the Winter? 


During the winter months, Ohio is home to a variety of bird species that are year-long residents in our home state. These birds can survive the cold temperatures and with limited food sources, but they still need some help from gardeners and bird feeders like you. 

Here are five birds you might find in your backyard this winter.  

  1. American Goldfinch. The goldfinch is a small bird, around four and a half inches long, and would fit in the palm of your hand if held (not that we recommend holding one). Their bright yellow feathers stand out against their dishwater-brown bodies. In terms of winter feeding, we put the goldfinch first because they are the easiest. These little birds will eat nyjer (also called thistle seed) from your feeders.  

  2. Dark-eyed Juncos. These birds are commonly known as snowbirds as they migrate from Alaska and Canada to Ohio during winter. They have distinctive white bellies and make frequent visits to bird feeders. The interesting thing about these birds is that they only come to Ohio during the winter, and you will not find them during any other month. Give these little nomads nyjer, black-oil sunflower seeds, hulled sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, cracked corn, hulled peanuts, and suet.

  3. Northern Cardinals. Known for their striking red plumage, male Northern Cardinals are a winter favorite in Ohio. They tend to stay in the same territory throughout the year and can often be seen perched on snow-covered branches. Feed these birds black oil sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, striped sunflower seeds, hulled peanuts, and cracked corn. 

  4. Downy Woodpeckers. These small woodpeckers are year-round residents in Ohio. They are easily identified by their black and white feathers and can be seen pecking at tree trunks to find insects hiding beneath the bark. To keep these little noisemakers happy, put out suet, peanut butter spread, sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, hulled peanuts, corn, fruits, and nectar.

  5. Tufted Titmice. These small, energetic birds are often seen during winter in Ohio and are year-round residents. They have a familiar call and can be found hopping between branches while foraging for seeds and insects. Look for them in deciduous woods or mixed wooded areas. They are another easy bird to satisfy. Give them suet and they will come back for more. 


During the winter, these bird species exhibit certain behaviors and characteristics to survive in harsh conditions. Many birds rely on bird feeders to supplement their diet, while others feast on berries and fruits that are still available.  

More winter topics: Why do evergreens stay green in the winter? Learn more in this blog! 

Four birds on icy tree branches

Two Mistakes to Avoid During Winter Bird Feeding 


When feeding birds during winter, there are a few mistakes that gardeners and birders sometimes make that can negatively impact both the birds and their environment. Let's look at two big ones. 


Food is the Focus 


Firstly, feeding the birds in your yard the right food is very important. We touched on this a little bit in the previous section, but having the right food out there for the specific birds in your yard is very important. Be sure to take some time in early winter to track and record which types of birds are visiting your yard and adjust your food supply accordingly. 

Birds have specific dietary requirements, so it is essential to provide them with appropriate birdseed or suet to ensure they receive the necessary nutrients. Feeding them bread or other human food can be harmful and may lead to nutritional deficiencies. So only feed them foods that you know are beneficial for their health. 


Clean and Maintain Your Feeders 


Another mistake to avoid is not regularly cleaning and disinfecting the feeders. Dirty feeders can become a breeding ground for diseases and bacteria, posing a risk to the birds. It is crucial to clean the feeders at least once a week using warm soapy water and rinse well before refilling them. 

Failure to regularly clean the feeders can result in the transmission of diseases among the bird population. Diseases such as salmonella and avian pox can spread through contaminated feeders, leading to illness and potential death. It is important to be aware of these risks and take necessary precautions to prevent the spread of diseases. 

In addition to diseases, accidents can also occur if the feeders are not properly maintained. For example, if the feeders are not tightly secured, they can fall and injure the birds. Similarly, if the feeders are placed in areas prone to predators, the birds may become vulnerable to attacks. 


Get the Seeds You Need in Beavercreek 


Winter bird feeding is one of the best activities you can do to keep your birding hobby going all year long. Identifying which birds come to your backyard and what types of food they eat will help ensure that your local birds are well-fed and healthy throughout the winter.  

While Knollwood does not stock a wide variety of feeders beyond suet and hummingbird summer supplies (too many critters shoplifting the goods), there are many local suppliers nearby! Be sure to check out Barney’s True Value just down the street and Daytona Mills around the corner!  Local is always good! 

If you are looking for gardening supplies to prepare your garden for spring, then Knollwood Garden Center has you covered. Stop by our garden center in Beavercreek today to discover your next great gardening adventure! 

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