Where Are My Birds This Winter?
This is probably the most frequently asked question from now through the beginning of March. You've done everything right - the feeders are full of fresh seed, you have the right types of seed in the proper feeders for the birds you want to attract, and there is plenty of cover. You may ask yourself, "Am I doing something wrong?"
Do not worry. This is a common pattern for local birds during winter months in our area when we have mild winters where there isn't a sustained snow cover on the ground. It means all the plants that put out seeds and fruits in the fall (and there a lot of plants that do so in our area) are available for the birds to eat. Birds tend to prefer these natural food sources in the winter versus coming into a feeder. When temperatures drop and the snow is falling, however, we see the birds return to the feeders.
So, what can you do? Make sure you keep the seed in your feeders clean and fresh so when the birds do stop by to eat the food will be to their liking, encouraging them to stick around longer. When the food is moving slowly, keep only small amounts of food out at a time to prevent large amounts of seed from going to waste.
Consider planting native seed-bearing and fruit-bearing plants in your yard to provide birds with the natural foods they tend to prefer during winter. Even if they are not at your feeder, the birds will still be in your yard enjoying the food and shelter these plants provide.
Also, be sure to provide a source of open water for your birds in the winter. Fresh water can be hard to come by for birds and may be enough of an enticement to encourage birds to visit the rest of the goodies you are offering in your yard for them.
Be patient with your birds - they will be back to feed sooner or later. A surge of wintery weather, without melts in-between, will keep birds steadily coming to feeders from winter through early spring. If the winter stays mild, then the birds will deplete the natural food sources by early spring, bringing larger flocks of birds back to your feeder by the end of March and sustaining them there through early May.