Do you want to feed your backyard birds even when summer is over and the weather turns cold? Wondering how to find the best bird feeders for winter?
Enriching your yard with visiting birds shouldn’t just be for summertime.
We’ve covered bird feeders for the cold winter months in this article, as we explore the needs of birds through the winter and how to choose a feeder that can stand up to the weather.
Let's take a quick glance at the products we will talk about here.
Winter Bird Feeders - Reviewed
Bird Quest 17-Inch Spiral Seed Bird Feeder
This bird feeder has a very cool spiral design and is quite large in size. The design isn’t just for looks, though, it is designed to allow multiple birds to perch at once. The big size of this feeder is great for winter birds.
This feeder can be used with a dome or baffle above to protect it during the winter, but a baffle doesn’t come with the feeder as standard.
This feeder is great if you want to be able to feed a lot of birds at once. The spiral design is perfect for certain types of birds, such as goldfinches, who will love to climb up and down the spiral, rather than hop between different feeders.
The big capacity is suitable for the winter months, just be sure to use bigger feed so it doesn’t fall out.
Woodlink NATUBE5 Audubon Tube Feeder
This is a very cool looking, brushed copper feeder. It’s 13.5 inches high and relatively easy to mount.
The Woodlink NATUBE5 allows lots of different birds to perch and feed out of the four different ports. This feeder is really attractive to finches, who seem to absolutely love it.
This is a simple and affordable tube feeder that you can easily get set up. You can even put a few of these around your yard. If you’re in an area with finches, this is particularly useful, as they are drawn to the design.
Squirrel Buster Plus Squirrel-proof Bird Feeder
Though the Squirrel Buster Plus Squirrel-proof Bird Feeder is pricier than some of the other models on this list, it has some very good features. The design clearly has winter in mind, with its large capacity and easy-to-clean design.
You can buy two of them at once (as shown on the picture above) or you can buy only one feeder.
The patented system for keeping pests at bay is a big plus point for the Squirrel Buster Plus. The feeder can be disassembled when you need to refill and clean it.
Not many bird feeders come with lifetime servicing, either. It may cost a little more, but the features are considerable. We’ve named this the very best bird feeder for winter use.
Nibble Weather Proof Anti-Bacterial Bird Feeder
As well as being great for use all year round, this bird feeder has one key feature: it’s easy to clean. The Nibble Bird Feeder is designed to be simple to clean, as it disassembles easily. It also resists some of the muckier conditions that winter can bring, with its antibacterial coating.
It’s a simple design, but you may have simple needs.
If cleanliness is high on your list of priorities, the Nibble Weather Proof Anti-Bacterial Bird Feeder has some good features. It’s easy to clean and the anti-bacterial coating is a great feature to stop disease from spreading, both for humans and for animals who may inhabit your yard.
This feeder can be used all year round and is pretty sturdy, considering it is on the affordable end of the market.
Perky-Pet Copper Panorama Bird Feeder
This bird feeder has a different design to many of the others on this list. It is a panorama feeder, meaning that the feed comes out all around the bottom of the feeder.
This feeder is available in either a one or two-tiered design. Naturally, with the two-tiered, there is double the space for birds and you can store twice the feed, meaning refilling less through the winter months.
Generally speaking, this is a quality and affordable feeder with a very interesting design. Not only is the design nice to look at, but the lid can also cover the seed and prevent it from getting wet.
Is it worth having a bird feeder in the winter?
The types of birds that visit your backyard in the winter is dependent on where in the world you live, but this is true all year round. Most likely, wherever you are, you will have some backyard birds in the winter, they just might be different than your summer birds.
In North America, finches, sparrows, jays, woodpeckers, and cardinals are just some of the species you might see in the winter months. They can make your garden a nicer place to be if you’re planning an outdoor winter party.
Many of the plants and insects that birds rely on for food are not available in the winter. So, your winter backyard birds will be grateful for the high-calorie food in your feeder.
Features of bird feeders for winter
So, what are some of the top features you need to look for when shopping for a winter bird feeder?
It is important that you think about how to protect both the birds and the bird food before you go ahead and buy a winter bird feeder. We’ve put together some of the most important features below:
Protection for the food. In winter, bird feeders should have covers over any areas where food is dispensed and stored. You need to make sure that the seed doesn’t get blown away or buried during storms or snow. If the seed gets wet, it can develop mold and be unhealthy for the birds, so it is important the feeder can keep the food dry.
A cover that extends all around the edge of the feeder can give protection when it gets stormy. If you don’t have a cover built-in to your bird feeder, you might be able to add baffles in order to keep the ice and snow at bay.
You can buy a baffle for your feeder separately if you need to, or you can make your own. The video below shows how to make a baffle for your bird feeder.
Easy to clean. In winter, your bird feeder will probably get dirtier. Ice build-up and melting snow on the feeder can mean that the seed will degrade in quality.
Also, it is likely that your feeder will get more birds in the winter, compared to the summer, as they can’t get food elsewhere. More traffic to your feeder can make it dirtier, meaning you need a model that is easy to clean.
Finding a bird feeder that is easy to wipe down and get rid of spoilt food will mean your bird feeder is less susceptible to mold and mildew. As I mentioned above, mold in your feeder can be a hazard to birds and people alike.
Bird feeder placement
If you can, you should keep your bird feeder away from the areas with the strongest wind in your garden. This will stop the food from blowing out and it will also mean that rain doesn’t blow sideways into your feeder and the food within.
If you can, place your feeder somewhere sheltered from the rain altogether and near hedges, in order to provide protection against predators.
For more general information about the best places to put your bird feeders, you can check out this post.
Avoiding winter pests in your feeder
Pests are a problem all year round. There are decisions you can make when buying your feeder, or with your feeder placement, which can help you to avoid pests getting in your bird food.
Squirrels will often try to get into bird feeders and you can do things around your yard to avoid this. Place nuts or other squirrel treats elsewhere in the yard, to ensure they don’t get tempted by the bird food.
Some of the best bird feeders also come with built-in repellants that can keep pests away, while still attracting birds. If you are making your own winter bird feeder, instead of buying one, think about adding squirrel repellant. This can keep squirrels from getting to the feed before the birds have had a chance.
Refilling your bird feeder during winter
Another feature to look for in a bird feeder, you should try and find one with a large capacity. Quite simply, in the winter months when it gets really cold, you probably won’t want to be constantly having to refill your feeder.
It might be that your feeder is in higher demand, too, due to the shortage of food for birds. Large capacity bird feeders mean more to offer the birds.
FAQs - Everything You Need to Know About Winter Bird Feeders
What do birds eat in the winter?
Birds will be in a sort of survival mode in the winter. High-fat food will give them more energy and help them through the winter months. Black oil sunflower seed, peanut butter, millet seed, and suet mix are ideal. More information on winter bird foods can be found here.
Where should I put my bird feeder?
Keep your bird feeder away from windy areas and, if you can, keep them away from the rain. Putting your bird feeder near natural cover also means they have somewhere to hide away if they need to.
How high should a bird feeder be off the ground?
Keep it at a height where birds can see the food and also at a height where you can get inside to change out the food. Most people opt to put their bird feeder at around 5-6 feet off the ground.
How long does it take for birds to find bird feeders?
There is no exact science to how long it takes birds to find a bird feeder. You should try and make it so that the food is visible to passing birds. It may take a day, it may take a few weeks. If you aren’t getting birds to the feeder, try it in a different place.
Can birds freeze to death?
Yes, birds can freeze to death in extreme temperatures. However, they are much better at handling the cold than many other species. Birds fluff their feathers to keep the heat in and can even slow down their metabolic rate to keep hold of their energy through even cold nights.
Best bird feeders for winter - Our choice
The winner of our roundup and the best bird feeder for winter is the Squirrel Buster Plus Squirrel-proof Bird Feeder . It fits pretty much all of the criteria we set out for the top options for winter.
For instance, this feeder has a clever system to stop squirrels from getting in, locking the feed away if a squirrel gets on the feeder. Lower quality, cheaper feeders, such as the Perky-Pet Copper Panorama Bird Feeder, doesn’t come with this extra protection from pests.
The Squirrel Buster is also a very big bird feeder and can store a lot of seed, so you don’t have to refill it often through the winter and go out in the cold. It even ventilates and keeps the food fresh.
You don’t need any tools to get inside this to clean it, either. The process of wiping it down and cleaning it is very simple -- another reason it is the perfect winter feeder.
Bonus Video: 3 Easy Tips For A Unique Christmas Tree Bird Feeder
Now, here's a bird feeder you can easily make yourself! This Christmas tree turned bird feeder is a unique way to not only recycle your old Christmas tree but to also help wildlife in the process.
Laura from Garden Answer has created this brilliant guide. She really has covered everything from the recipe needed to the technique of making this bird feeder. She even lists where you can get all of the ingredients. You don’t have to stick to this strictly either, there is room for you to experiment and add your own tilt on the bird feeder.
I love how inventive this is!
I would never have thought to use oranges like this or to decorate my tree in such an unconventional way. Laura’s passion for gardening and the great outdoors shines through in this video. It is so rare to see a Christmas tree with so many natural decorations, and you can be the envy of the neighborhood if you take these brilliant tips.
And if you use only Christmas branches, it can become a nice addition to your winter porch decoration.
See Laura's video below:
Have you enjoyed our list of the best bird feeders? Do you have your own tips for feeding birds through the winter? Maybe you have experience with some of the bird feeders we’ve mentioned. Feel free to share your thoughts on the best bird feeders for winter with a comment below.
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Last update on 2020-09-19 at 00:49 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API