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WINTER, Lifestyle

Backyard Birding

January 5, 2023


As winter blankets our landscape, the change in weather can pose challenges for our feathered friends. With their natural food sources like insects, berries, and seeds scarce, supplementing their diet becomes crucial. Winter feeding provides essential nutrients, ensuring our backyard birds maintain energy and warmth during winter.


Ontario's Feathered Visitors:

In Ontario, a variety of birds grace our backyards, including:

  • Black-capped Chickadees
  • Blue Jays
  • Common Starlings
  • Dark-Eyed Juncos
  • Downy Woodpeckers
  • Hairy Woodpeckers
  • House Sparrows
  • Northern Cardinals
  • American Crows
  • American Goldfinches
  • Mourning Doves
  • White-breasted Nuthatches
Different Bird Foods:

Some bird foods are better than others. Providing food high in fat and protein will help your backyard birds recharge after a cold night and keep them energized throughout the day. We suggest using:

  • Squirrel-proof Mix: Specifically designed to deter squirrels and attract various bird species.
  • Wild Bird Food: Suitable for small and large songbirds, comprising cut corn, wheat, red and white millet.
  • All-Season Blends: Combining nutritious ingredients like red millet, black oil sunflower seeds, and red milo for sustained energy.
  • Peanut Mixes: High-energy foods beloved by wild birds.
  • Nyjer Seed: Ideal for finches and smaller songbirds.
  • Suet: High-fat content aiding birds during winter months. It comes with seeds, nuts, fruit bits, or mealworms, attracting various birds.
Best Winter Feeders:

Choosing a suitable feeder is extremely important in creating a backyard haven for our Ontario birds, here are our suggestions:

Protecting Against Pesky Squirrels:
  • Strategically purchase caged feeders for an extra layer of protection.
  • Place feeders away from trees so squirrels can’t jump or climb over to your feeders.
  • Squirrels don’t like the taste and smell of pepper, but birds don’t mind- spray pepper all over your feeders.
  • Cover poles with layers of plastic tubing to stop squirrels from jumping on or up.
  • Grease poles with petroleum jelly (Vaseline)



Maintaining Clean Feeders:

It is essential to keep your feeders clean to avoid spreading disease within your backyard bird community. Typically, your feeders will get a higher activity level during winter and should be cleaned once every two weeks.


For routine cleaning, you can clean your metal and wood feeders with dish soap and boiling water. Disassemble the feeder and let it soak in the solution for at least 15 minutes, followed by a good scrub with a scrub or bottle brush.


If you suspect that there may be mold developing in your feeders, a deeper cleaning is required. After washing in hot, soapy water, rinse thoroughly and soak hot water and vinegar in equal parts for 60 minutes. Rinse thoroughly with hot water and allow the feeder to dry completely —once dried, refill with fresh food.


At Sheridan Nurseries, we offer a range of feeders, seeds, suet, and birding accessories all year. Explore our online store and visit any of our garden centre locations for all your birding essentials and expert advice.