Attracting Birds in January

Posted by Nancy on 1/20/2016 to All About Bird Feeders
January is a peak time in your bird feeding year.  In the north one storm system after another can bring more snow.  In the south cold weather can mean a decrease in insects and berries are becoming scarce.   This makes finding food in the wild more difficult and you bird feeders more inviting.

Your bird feeders should be in full operation and you should be offering a number of different feeds. Be sure your mixed seed hopper feeders and platform feeders are kept full.  Thistle seed (nyjer) will offer a tempting treat for the goldfinches, Pine Siskins and other finches.  Suet is also important and popular this time of year.  This high energy food will help to keep your birds warm.  Berry eating birds will enjoy some raisins along with grape jelly offered in your oriole feeders.

Be sure to offer open water for your birds.  You can use a heated bird bath or offer water in small containers that can be swapped out when they start to freeze.

In the north January is a fine time to look for Canadian species like Evening Grosbeaks, redpolls, Pine Siskins, and crossbills.  These birds love sunflower seed, so be sure to offer some these tempting seeds.  In the south watch for the winter sparrows and the influx of hawks in your area.  Remember to offer seed on platform seed feeders for "scratching" birds such as the towhees, thrashers, White-crowned Sparrows, White-throated Sparrow, and Fox Sparrows.

As you are shoveling the snow and scraping your car windows, you may find it hard to believe, but it is time to start looking for signs of spring.  Look closely at your goldfinches.  Do they look a little brighter?  Are you listening for owls at night?  The Great Horned Owl in particular can be heard calling even when temperatures are below zero.

You may want to walk around your yard and start thinking about what plants you can add to your yard to improve your backyard habitat.  Consider adding flowers for hummingbirds or composite flowers for finches.  Remember to let these flowers go to seed.  Do you need to add some shrubs to create thickets for the birds? Maybe some trees for nesting?  Fruit trees for winter treats for the birds?  Evergreens for added protection for the birds in the winter?

Can you use your Christmas tree to add to a brush pile?  You may want to place it in your yard and decorate it with pine cones covered with peanut butter and seed  String some cranberries and raisins to offer to the berry eating birds.

And please remember to stay inside with a cup of hot chocolate and enjoy bird watching.  You have worked hard to attract birds.  You may be rewarded with an new species in your yard and you don't want to miss it.

January Checklist

Fill bird feeders daily, be sure to have food out for the last feeding of day to help your birds through a cold night
Brush snow off the feeders during and after storms
Feed suet for quick energy
Spread out and vary the height of feeders so that more birds will be attracted
Keep water open on freezing days
Check goldfinches for color changes, it's a sure sign spring is coming
Listen for owls hooting, another sign that spring is on its way
Plan for improvements in your birding habitat 

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