In the late fall and winter, heavy snowfalls can quickly bury natural sources of wild bird food. In addition, most of the lush berry- and seed-laden vegetation of spring and summer has withered and blown away, and most insect species are either dead or dormant.

It’s during this time that many birds begin to rely on the seed feeders found in backyards across North America. Thanks to our kindness, a few bird species have actually changed their naturally occurring ranges – often staying farther north in the U.S. and Canada than they did 100 years ago.

Those birds, along with the birds that don’t migrate south for the winter, are happy to indulge in the bird seed you offer them throughout the coldest months of the year.

What bird seed should you offer birds in the winter? There are several options:

  • Black-oil Sunflower Seed – Easily the best, all-around bird seed, black-oil sunflower seed will draw in a huge variety of species thanks to the fact that it’s packed with protein. Big birds and small birds alike love this seed!
  • Safflower Seed – If you’re having trouble with squirrels raiding your feeders, then safflower seed is a great option. Squirrels don’t like to eat this seed, but birds don’t seem to mind. Among others, you can expect to see Northern Cardinals, grosbeaks and chickadees at a feeder filled with safflower seed.
  • Peanuts – Another high-protein option for bird feeders are in-the-shell peanuts or peanut pieces. Birds absolutely love peanuts, but so do many other animals! Still, there’s no denying that a steady supply of peanuts will be a big boost to your birds through a tough winter.
  • Nyjer® Seed – Another anti-squirrel option is Nyjer® seed, which most varieties of finch will happily gobble up. This tiny, slender seed requires a specialized finch feeder to hold it.
  • Species-specific mixes – Birdseed companies have created a variety of special blends that are meant to attract specific species or groups of birds. These mixes target the nutritional needs of these birds and can be a huge benefit to them through a difficult winter.
  • Suet – For the fall and winter, another option is suet. Suet cakes are made of rendered beef fat, seeds, and grains. This high-energy diet is especially important in colder zones where a bird’s metabolism has to work extra hard just to keep warm. Make sure to look for bird feeders specially designed to hold suet cakes.


Another great way to help birds in the winter is by providing them with fresh, unfrozen water. While thirsty birds will eat snow, it’s an energy drain as they have to waste valuable body heat to unthaw it.

As a backyard bird enthusiast, you can help them conserve that energy for more important things. All you need to do is provide your birds with a supply of fresh water. Do that with a birdbath or bird waterer.

Of course, if the outdoor temperatures are below freezing, you’ll have to take steps to keep the water ice-free. For birdbaths, try placing an oven-heated brick in the water – one brick in the morning should be enough. For bird waterers, take them inside at night to unthaw and put them back out in the morning.

If you’re worried about your birds getting wet in your bird bath and freezing to death, don’t fret too much. Their instincts will let them know when to take a bath in the winter and how to dry off afterward.

Woodstream offers a wide variety of feeders that will accommodate all of these types of seed, many of which are stocked in the Arett warehouse.  Talk to your Arett sales rep  or order online with Program # W75S5 about adding some to your next order.

Order Now Using Program Number: W75S5