Common Overwintering Birds
Chickadee - These small, gray and black birds are known for their distinctive "chick-a-dee-dee-dee" call, which can often be heard in the woods. They are typically found in wooded areas and are known to be friendly and approachable. Chickadees prefer Sunflower Seeds (Black & Striped) and safflower seeds
Cardinal - The male Cardinal is well-known for its striking red plumage, black mask, and crest on the head. The female cardinal is also brightly coloured with a red-orange plumage, but her colour is not as bright as the male, and she lacks the black mask. Juvenile birds resemble adult females, but with streaked bellies. Cardinals prefer sunflower seeds (Black & Striped) and safflower seeds.
Goldfinch - This small finch is known for its bright yellow plumage and black markings on its head and wings. They have a short conical bill, and in the summer males have a bright yellow head, black cap and wings with white wing bars, while females are olive-yellow above and yellow below. Finch prefers Hulled Sunflower Seeds and Nyger Seeds.
Best Winter Food For Birds
There are a variety of different types of feed that can be used to attract winter birds in New Brunswick. Some popular options include:
- Black oil sunflower seeds: These seeds are high in fat and protein, making them a great source of energy for birds during the winter. They are also small and easy to handle, making them a popular choice for backyard bird feeders.
- Nyjer or thistle seeds: These tiny, black seeds are a favourite of finches, such as American Goldfinches and Pine Siskins. They are high in oil and protein and are best offered in a tube feeder with small openings to keep the seeds inside.
- Suet: Suet is a type of high-energy bird food made from rendered beef fat. It's a great source of energy for birds during the winter, and it can be offered in a suet feeder or mixed with seeds in a regular feeder.
- Mealworms: These are the larvae of the darkling beetle, and they are a great source of protein for birds. They are often used to attract insect-eating birds such as woodpeckers and bluebirds and can be offered in a specialized mealworm feeder or on a tray or platform feeder.
- Fruit: During the winter, many birds will appreciate a source of natural sugar, such as apples, orange halves, raisins, cranberries or even suet cakes with fruits added to them. These can be hung on a string or placed on a tray feeder.
- Peanut butter: Peanut butter is a great source of protein and fat for birds, and it can be offered in a variety of ways such as smeared on a tree trunk, on a platform feeder or mixed with seeds in a regular feeder.
It's important to note that not all birds eat the same type of food, so it's a good idea to offer a variety of food options to attract a diverse range of birds to your backyard. Additionally, it's also important to keep your feeders clean and filled, as well as provide fresh water to the birds during winter.
There are many different types of bird feeders that can be used to attract birds in New Brunswick, each with its own unique features and design. Some popular types include:
- Hopper feeder: Hopper feeders are a popular choice for backyard bird feeding. They are typically made of wood or plastic and have a sloping roof and a large tray or hopper for holding seeds. They are easy to fill and clean, and they attract a wide variety of birds, including finches, sparrows, and cardinals.
- Tube feeder: Tube feeders are designed for small seeds, such as Nyjer or thistle seeds. They have small openings and perches, which makes it easy for small birds to feed. These feeders are often used to attract finches, chickadees, and titmice.
- Suet feeder: Suet feeders are typically made of wire mesh and are designed to hold suet cakes. They are often used to attract woodpeckers, nuthatches, and chickadees.
- Platform feeder: Platform feeders are flat, usually with an open bottom, and are perfect for placing on a tray or hanging it. They can be used to offer a variety of food options such as seeds, fruits, mealworms, or even suet. These feeders are used to attract a wide variety of birds, including doves, sparrows, and juncos.
Here are some tips for using bird feeders to help overwintering birds in New Brunswick:
- Put your feeder out in late august or September so birds can learn where to find the food before winter.
- Use a variety of feeders: Different bird species have different feeding preferences, so using a variety of feeders can attract a diverse range of birds. Offer seed, suet, fruits, and mealworms to attract different types of birds.
- Keep feeders clean and filled: Clean and refill feeders regularly to ensure that birds have a reliable source of food. Dirty feeders can harbour disease and mould, which can be harmful to birds. Wash your feeders every week or two. Clean out any leftover food, disinfect with bleach, rinse thoroughly, dry completely, Fill them back up and re-hang.
- Place feeders in a visible and safe location: Place feeders in a location where birds can easily spot them and where they are protected from predators.
- Use a squirrel-proof feeder: Squirrels and other pests can consume large amounts of bird food, leaving less for birds. Use squirrel-proof feeders to keep pests away from the food.
- Offer a variety of foods: Offer a variety of foods to attract a diverse range of birds. Offer sunflower seeds, thistle seeds, suet, mealworms, and fruit.
- Provide water: Birds also need a source of fresh water, so make sure to provide a birdbath or a heated birdbath to keep water from freezing.
- Be consistent: Birds rely on a consistent source of food and water, so it's important to maintain your feeders throughout the winter.
- Make sure the birds can get to the feeder by cleaning off any snow build-up.
- Keep your bird food from getting wet so it doesn't mould. Hopper and Tube feeders are great for protecting seeds from wet weather.
How To Help Overwintering Birds
- Create a bird-friendly habitat: Birds need a place to roost, nest, and find shelter from the cold. Planting native trees, shrubs, and other plants that provide food and shelter can help birds survive the winter.
- Control pests: Birds often have to compete with pests such as squirrels and raccoons for food. To minimize this competition, use squirrel-proof feeders and keep feeders in an area where pests can't access them.
- Avoid using pesticides: Many pesticides can harm birds and their food sources. Instead of using pesticides, consider using natural alternatives or hand-picking pests.
- Reduce or eliminate window collisions: Birds often fly into windows and can be injured or killed. You can reduce window collisions by putting decals, silhouettes, or screens on windows that are most likely to reflect the sky or trees.
By providing food, water, shelter, and safe habitat, you can help overwintering birds in New Brunswick survive the winter months. Additionally, by avoiding the use of pesticides, and reducing window collisions, you can also contribute to the conservation of birds.