The cold dead winter has finally arrived in Northeast PA. The garden is dismal, the weather is bitter and no one wants to go outside. The only glimmer of life that can be seen out your window are the few feathery friends that have not left the area due to the cold.
Of course we want to keep the little birds coming to our yard and brightening our days. But do we even know what kind of birds we are attracting or how to keep them coming back?
According to a study done by Penn State, there are about 35 different species that frequent bird feeders in PA during the winter months. Rural areas see the most diversity, while more urban areas may continue to see the same species all the time.
Penn State has this wonderful chart on their website to show what birds are around our area in the winter and what food they prefer. We provided a copy of that chart below. Take a look and then keep reading for more tips on how to get these guys to make a stop in your garden.
|Species||Food Preference||Feeder Preference|
|Mourning dove||Cracked corn, millet, sunflower seeds||Ground, platform feeder|
|Red-bellied woodpecker||Suet, sunflower seeds, peanuts||Suet feeder, hanging feeder|
|Downy and hairy woodpeckers||Suet, sunflower seeds, peanuts||Suet feeder, hanging feeder|
|Blue jay||Sunflower seeds, suet, peanuts||Platform feeder|
|Black-capped chickadee||Sunflower seeds, suet, peanuts||Almost all feeders|
|Tufted titmouse||Sunflower seeds, suet, peanuts||Hanging feeder, suet feeder|
|White-breasted nuthatch||Sunflower seeds, suet||Almost all feeders|
|Red-breasted nuthatch||Sunflower seeds, suet||Suet feeder, hanging feeder|
|Carolina wren||Peanut butter, suet||Suet feeder|
|European starling||Peanut butter, suet, sunflower seeds||Suet feeder, platform feeder|
|White-throated sparrow||Sunflower seeds, millet||Ground, platform feeder|
|Song sparrow||Sunflower seeds, millet||Ground, platform feeder|
|Dark-eyed junco||Sunflower seeds, millet||Ground, platform feeder|
|Northern cardinal||Sunflower seeds, seed mixes||Ground, platform feeder, tube feeder with tray|
|Common grackle||Cracked corn, sunflower seeds||Platform feeder, tube feeder with tray|
|Brown-headed cowbird||Millet||Platform feeder|
|Purple finch||Niger, sunflower seeds, millet||Niger feeder, hanging tube feeder|
|House finch||Niger, sunflower seeds, millet||Niger feeder, hanging tube feeder, gound|
|American goldfinch||Niger, sunflower seeds||Niger feeder, hanging tube feeder, gound|
|House sparrow||Niger, sunflower seeds||Platform feeder, tube feeder with tray|
Each one of these birds may have different food and feeder preferences, but on thing they all require is fresh water.
Water is even more crucial to birds than food is during the cold months. Many of their usual watering holes are frozen over or dried up so if your backyard has a nice bird bath, they are very likely to come back over and over again.
Shelter is extremely important to winter birds too. Different species will gravitate toward different kinds of shelters. Some birds like the covering of a green bush while others like an empty bird house. Offering both is not a bad idea, because it will bring a variety of birds to visit with you.
Hopefully many feathery friends visit and brighten your winter days this season!