Preparing Backyard Birds for Winter

Winter bird feeding

Tips for feeding winter birds.

To attract the most birds, put out well-stocked bird feeders in early autumn before the birds establish their winter-feeding routine. When feeding birds in winter, feeders are most efficient when placed at sites where birds are known to visit. In all seasons, wild birds are especially attracted to water for drinking and bathing. A heated birdbath can encourage birds to stick around all winter. The Audubon Society suggests that by “keeping feeders full, it’s a wonderful way to help birds through the winter, and they can be a lot of fun to watch… Many people find this hobby to be an enjoyable way to interact with nature, and the birds can certainly benefit from a well-tended feeding station.”

Bird Seed available at Pasquesi
PASQUESI 4 SEASONS No waste Wild Bird Food
A superb mix of sunflower meats, white millet, red millet, peanut pieces and clean, cracked corn.  It is designed to tempt songbirds and reduce waste around the feeder (no hulls).

Wild birds love the quality ingredients and you’ll appreciate the low waste mixture of black and striped sunflower, safflower, white millet, sunflower meats, cracked corn, red millet, peanut pieces, Nyjer(thistle) seed and grit.

Attract all types of colorful songbirds at a moderate price with black sunflower, safflower, white millet, red millet and clean, cracked corn. No milo.

Invite bright-red cardinals, blue jays, nuthatch and other wild birds with black sunflower, safflower, white millet, peanut pieces and striped sunflower seeds.

This blend of Nyjer seed, sunflower meats, hulled sunflower, red millet, canary seed and canary grit is perfect for Goldfinches, siskins and other small songbirds.

Whether in the shell or not, peanuts are a high calorie, fat-rich nut that appeals to many backyard birds such as nuthatches, blue jays and chickadees. Since nuts don’t freeze, they are a perfect food for winter birds.

Pair Birds with Bird Feeders
Since birds are attracted to different types of feeder designs, you can increase your odds of attracting your favorite birds by matching the bird species with a specific type of feeder.
Tube Feeder: American Goldfinch, House Finch, Nuthatch, Titmouse
Platform Feeder: House Finch, Blue Jay, Northern Cardinal, Song Sparrow, Titmouse
Hopper Feeder: House Finch, Blue Jay, Titmouse, Northern Cardinal
Suet Feeder: Northern Cardinal, Nuthatch, Titmouse, Warbler, Woodpecker, Wren
Nyjer or Thistle Seed Tube Feeder: American Goldfinch, House Finch, Purple Finch
Squirrel Buster Feeder: If you don’t want squirrels stealing from your birds’ buffet, try one of these tube bird feeders. Birds can dine there but squirrels will be literally locked out!* (However, it’s always fun watching them try to figure this feeder out.)
*Bird feeder is weight-adjustable to keep out squirrels and larger, unwanted birds, too.

Suet Choices
Suet offers birds a high energy food for winter. Suet cakes and suet logs are high in fat, protein, and calories and are enjoyed by birds year round, but especially in fall and winter when seed and insects are scarce. Suet cakes are made even more tempting with additional ingredients such as peanuts, seeds and berries. Suet is popular among nuthatches, chickadees and all woodpeckers. If you have problems with squirrels eating the suet before the birds get a chance, you might want to try suet with hot peppers. Birds like it and squirrels definitely do not.

Birds need water, even in winter.
The winter is a tough time for birds. Help them by providing a water source year round by including a heater in your birdbath—one that will keep the water from turning into an icy pond.

What plants attract the most birds?
Native plants will attract specific birds to your backyard by providing local birds with the foods that they have grown up with for generations. Some birds such as woodpeckers and bluebirds enjoy berries and fruits along with insects, while finches prefer the seeds of dried, native coneflowers in fall and winter.

1. In the fall, allow certain dried perennials such as coneflowers, asters, and black-eyed Susans to remain in the garden. Their tasty seeds attract American goldfinches, chickadees, evening grosbeaks, finches, cardinals and titmice.

2. Add native prairie plants such as: goldenrod, Liatris, thistle, millet, blanket flower and ornamental grasses to dry and remain standing in the fall and winter landscape. Birds will eat the seeds and use the dense foliage of grasses as shelter in winter and as a nesting material in spring.

3. Plant a nice selection of shrubs with fruits and berries such as blueberry, viburnum, dogwood, cedar, juniper, hawthorn, winterberry, chokeberry, mulberry and serviceberry. These fruit-bearing plants will attract woodpeckers, bluebirds, orioles, scarlet tanagers and waxwings. An interesting fact from Birds & Bloom magazine, “…unlike most birds, waxwings can survive on fruit alone for several months.”

Provide Food for other types of Wildlife
Keep those furry bandits busy with their own corn cobs and peanuts.
It often helps to feed squirrels with peanuts or corn in a separate area that is far away from your bird feeders.

Food Storage
Keep tasty bird seed away from mice, rats, squirrels or other interested critters. Keep your seed safe by storing the birdseed in metal (no gnawing or scratching plastic) containers with tight lids.


For more information on birdseed, birdhouses, squirrel-proof feeders or other bird-related items, talk with our experts at our Lake Bluff store or visit us at


What’s the buzz? The sound of summer. Filling your garden with flowering plants that bees like is the perfect way to a part of the cycle of nature. Bees are hardworking insects—pollinating our crops and flowers for us and feeding themselves and their community at the same time. And, don’t forget the honey—one of nature’s simplest pleasures.