Winter is a very important and rewarding time to feed your outdoor birds. We all know that many birds “fly south for the winter” but that’s definitely not the case for all birds. In fact there are many beautiful species that stick around here and tough out the cold with the rest of us. Besides, with the changing of the seasons winter birding allows for easier viewing due to the backdrop of snow and less foliage to block your view.

Place your bird feeders closer to the home or on the deck to allow for easier feeder refilling. You can purchase hangers that will attach directly to the deck railing without drilling any holes.

Double branch deck hanger

Single arm deck hanger

Here are the species that you should be targeting:


Chickadees are a beautiful bird that will feed in numbers when you have a consistent seed present. Chickadees eat millet, sun flower hearts, black oil sunflower seeds and dried fruit.

You also want to make sure that you have a suet cake available for the chickadee to munch on. Suet cakes are high in fat and protein and are a bird favorite in the lean winter months.

Cardinal in the snow


Cardinals are beautiful in the winter time against a white and evergreen backdrop. Cardinals eat; safflower, black oil sunflower, suet, striped sunflower, and dried fruit available for cardinals. You can also purchase blends that are designed specifically for cardinals. Make sure that the blend you purchase is for cardinals and doesn’t just have a picture of a cardinal on the package.

Blue Jay

Blue Jays

Blue Jays are a somewhat of a bully when it comes to the birding world but they are beautiful to look at. They have a varied diet that consists of peanuts, sunflower seeds, berries, corn, acorns, insects, suet, and the occasional small mouse, baby bird or egg.



Nuthatches are a small fast bird that are an intense bundle of energy and are very entertaining to watch. They love to eat peanuts, black oil sunflower seeds, striped sunflower seeds,  insects, peanut butter and suet.



Often mistaken for a purple finch, the male grosbeaks we have in our neck of the woods are a rosy red color. They prefer eating black oil sunflower seeds, striped sunflower seeds, sunflower hearts, safflower, and suet.

Purple Finch

Purple finches will stick around for at least part of a Minnesota winter. They like to eat black oil sunflower seeds, thistle seed (also know as nyjer seed), outdoor finch food, sunflower chips, and safflower seeds. They prefer coniferous trees to take refuge in.


The Downy woodpecker is the species most likely to visit a feeder. A smaller version of a classic woodpecker body plan. They prefer insects but will also eat seeds and fruit. They love suet, peanuts, black oil sunflower, and millet.

For all birds make sure that you have the feeders near shelter such as a small bush or tree so they don’t feel exposed. Try placing the feeder in a place that the birds can escape from the wind and the elements. Use a cluster of two to four feeders and vary the feeder types. Use platform, tray and hopper style feeders. Have some feeders closer to the ground and some higher up.

If you feed the squirrels, rabbits, pheasants and or other critters place that feeder toward the back of the yard and away from the bird feeding station. This helps keep the other critters away from eating from the bird feeders. It doesn’t assure that your bird feeders won’t be attacked by unwanted pests but it helps.

Do not place the feeders too close to windows to avoid having birds crash into the glass. You may also want to consider putting out a heated bird bath for drinking water purposes. For more information on birds and bird feeding check out this post on bird feeding tips.

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