Feeding Winter Birds in Pennsylvania: Tips and Tricks




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Winter in Pennsylvania can be a challenging time for birds to find enough food to survive. That’s why many bird lovers choose to help out by providing food for them. Feeding birds in winter can be a fun and rewarding activity, but it’s important to know what foods are best to offer and how to do it safely.

There are several types of foods that you can provide to winter birds in Pennsylvania. Commercial bird food, peanuts, suet, mixed seed, cracked corn, nyjer/thistle seed, safflower seed, black-oil sunflower seed, mealworms, fruits, and homemade food from your kitchen are all options. However, not all foods are suitable for all birds, and some can even be harmful. It’s important to do your research and choose the right foods for the species you want to attract. Additionally, it’s important to keep your feeders clean and to avoid overcrowding, which can lead to the spread of disease.

Why Feed Winter Birds

Feeding winter birds in Pennsylvania is a great way to help our feathered friends survive during harsh winter conditions. During winter, many bird species migrate south to warmer climates, but some remain in the same place. These birds face many challenges, including finding enough food and shelter to survive.

By providing food and shelter, we can help these birds conserve energy and stay warm during the cold winter months. Feeding winter birds also allows us to observe and appreciate the beauty of nature right in our own backyard.

Predators are another challenge that winter birds face. By providing food in a safe and secure location, we can help protect them from predators such as cats and hawks.

Different bird species have different dietary needs, so it’s important to provide a variety of food options when feeding winter birds. Some common foods include black oil sunflower seeds, suet, and nyjer seeds. You can also provide fresh water for drinking and bathing.

It’s important to note that feeding winter birds should not be the sole source of food for these birds. They still need to forage for their own food to maintain a balanced diet. Providing food and shelter should be seen as a supplement to their natural food sources.

In conclusion, feeding winter birds in Pennsylvania is a simple and rewarding activity that can help our feathered friends survive during harsh winter conditions. By providing food and shelter, we can help conserve their energy and protect them from predators.

What to Feed Winter Birds

Feeding winter birds in Pennsylvania can be a rewarding activity for bird lovers who wish to help their feathered friends during harsh conditions. To attract a wide range of feathered friends to your backyard, it is important to provide a variety of foods that meet their nutritional needs. Below are some of the best foods to offer winter birds.

Seeds and Nuts

Seeds and nuts are a great source of energy and protein for birds during the winter months. Black-oil sunflower seeds are a favorite among many bird species, including sparrows, cardinals, woodpeckers, tufted titmice, nuthatches, chickadees, blue jays, and finches. House finches and Carolina wrens prefer safflower seeds, while goldfinches love nyjer seeds. Peanuts, cracked corn, and mixed seed are also popular choices among a variety of bird species.


Fruits are another great source of nutrition for winter birds. Offer fresh or dried fruit such as apples, oranges, and cranberries. You can also provide raisins, currants, and other dried fruits. Be sure to remove any seeds or pits from the fruit before offering it to birds.

Suet and Animal Fat

Suet and animal fat are high-energy foods that are especially important for birds during the winter. They provide a good source of calories and help birds stay warm in cold weather. Offer suet cakes or blocks, or mix animal fat with other ingredients such as peanut butter, nuts, and seeds. Birds such as woodpeckers, chickadees, nuthatches, and tufted titmice are particularly fond of suet.

Mealworms and Insects

Mealworms and insects are a great source of protein for birds, especially during the winter when other food sources may be scarce. Offer mealworms, crickets, and other insects in a feeder or scattered on the ground. Birds such as bluebirds, wrens, and chickadees are especially fond of mealworms.

In addition to the above foods, you can also offer eggshells for birds to eat. Crushed eggshells are a good source of calcium, which is important for birds during the breeding season.

By providing a variety of foods, you can attract a wide range of birds to your backyard during the winter months. Be sure to offer food in a variety of feeders, including tube feeders, hopper feeders, platform feeders, and suet feeders.

How to Feed Winter Birds

Feeding winter birds in Pennsylvania is a great way to help them survive the harsh conditions. Here are some tips on how to feed winter birds:

Other local states:

Bird Feeders

Bird feeders are a popular way to feed winter birds. There are many different types of bird feeders available, such as hopper feeders, suet feeders, and sunflower seed bird feeder tubes. Hopper feeders are great for feeding larger birds like cardinals and blue jays, while suet feeders are perfect for woodpeckers and nuthatches. Sunflower seed bird feeder tubes are great for attracting a variety of birds.

Feeding Station

A feeding station is a great way to feed winter birds. You can create a feeding station by using a pole or tree with several hooks or branches. Hang different types of feeders from the hooks or branches, such as suet cakes, seed feeders, and peanut feeders. This will attract a variety of birds to your feeding station.

Ground-Feeding Table

A ground-feeding table is a great way to feed winter birds that prefer to feed on the ground. You can create a ground-feeding table by using a piece of plywood or a shallow tray. Spread birdseed and cracked corn on the table to attract birds like sparrows, juncos, and doves.


Birds need water, even in the winter. A birdbath is a great way to provide water for winter birds. Make sure to keep the water from freezing by using a heater or by changing the water frequently. Place the birdbath near a tree with overhanging branches so that the birds have a place to sit and preen after bathing.

By following these tips, you can help winter birds survive the harsh conditions in Pennsylvania. Remember to clean your feeders and birdbath regularly to prevent the spread of disease.

Where to Feed Winter Birds

Feeding winter birds in Pennsylvania is a great way to help them survive the harsh winter months. However, the type of habitat around your home influences the number of birds visiting your feeder. Here are some tips on where to place your bird feeder:

Wooded Areas

The greatest diversity of winter birds appears at feeders in wooded rural areas. These areas offer shelter and natural food sources that attract a variety of birds. Placing your feeder near trees and shrubs can provide additional cover and perches for birds to rest on.


Even in urban areas, you can attract winter birds to your feeder. However, the diversity of birds may be smaller compared to rural areas. To attract birds in the city, place your feeder near trees and bushes that provide cover and shelter. Also, avoid placing your feeder near busy streets or areas frequented by pets.

Heat Islands

Heat islands are areas in cities that are warmer than the surrounding areas due to human activity. These areas can provide a refuge for birds during the winter. Placing your feeder near these areas, such as near a building or a heated birdbath, can attract birds seeking warmth.

When placing your feeder, make sure it is visible to birds but not easily accessible to predators. Also, keep your feeder clean and filled with fresh food to attract birds and prevent the spread of disease.

Here are some common winter birds you may see at your feeder in Pennsylvania:

  • Northern Cardinal
  • Dark-eyed Junco
  • American Crow
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • Blue Jay
  • Tufted Titmouse
  • White-breasted Nuthatch
  • Mourning Dove
  • White-throated Sparrow
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • Carolina Wren

By following these tips, you can attract a variety of winter birds to your feeder and help them survive the winter months in Pennsylvania.

When to Feed Winter Birds

Winter can be a challenging time for birds in Pennsylvania, as they have to deal with harsh weather conditions and food scarcity. As a bird lover, you can help them survive the winter by providing them with food. But when is the best time to feed winter birds? Let’s find out.

Start Early

It’s best to start feeding winter birds early in the season, preferably in late fall or early winter. By doing so, you’ll give the birds enough time to discover your feeder and get accustomed to it. This will also help them build up their fat reserves, which they need to survive the cold winter months.

Keep Feeding Throughout Winter

Once you start feeding winter birds, it’s important to keep feeding them throughout the winter. Birds rely on a consistent food source, and if you suddenly stop feeding them, they may struggle to find food elsewhere. So, make sure to keep your feeder filled with food all winter long.

Consider the Weather

When it comes to feeding winter birds, it’s important to consider the weather conditions. During periods of extreme cold or heavy snowfall, birds may have a harder time finding food. In such cases, you may need to increase the frequency of your feedings or provide additional food sources, such as suet or mealworms.

Avoid Feeding Moldy or Spoiled Food

During the winter months, it’s important to check your bird feeder regularly and remove any moldy or spoiled food. Moldy or spoiled food can make birds sick, and in some cases, it can be fatal. So, make sure to clean your feeder regularly and replace any spoiled food with fresh food.


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