Should Bird Feeders Be Used In Winter? (Explained for Beginners)

by Alex Kountry
Updated on

Winter is usually a fun-filled season. However, this is not the case with birds.

Most birds indeed have amazing adaptive features that help them survive this season.

Still, it is not so easy for them.

The winter season is regarded as harsh on these winged creatures. Food scarcity is a major issue for them during the winter.

This is because trees and branches are usually snow-covered.

This can be harmful to birds especially since they need more food in the winter to stay warm.

So, should bird feeders be used during winter? Let’s answer that.

Should Bird Feeders Be Used In Winter? 

Should Bird Feeders Be Used In Winter

Yes, bird feeders should be used during winter. This contributes to resolving the issue of food scarcity.

Birds that are fortunate to have access to bird feeders are more likely to survive.

Truth is, bird feeders are more important to birds during the winter than they are during the summer.

During the winter, birds typically face a food shortage. This is because the snow normally covers the ground.

This makes it difficult for them to feed as they are unable to dig.

In these trying times, bird feeders would be a welcome sight. However, seed-eating birds benefit from this most.

Not every bird eats seed, most birds consume fruits instead. Therefore, these bird species are not likely to feed from a bird feeder.

However, birds that feed on seeds, such as sparrows and finches, would congregate around the bird feeder. 

Related: Here is an article I wrote on cleaning your bird feeders

How Do I Protect My Bird Feeders In The Winter? 

Your bird feeders will undoubtedly require preparation for the winter season.

Temperature fluctuations are unavoidable, and if precautions are not taken, this can have an impact on your bird feeder.

Certain precautions should be taken to keep your feeder in good working order throughout the winter. Here are just a few examples:

Choose the appropriate feeder:

First, select a bird feeder appropriate for the season. Having the appropriate bird feeder for the season will determine how well it will serve during that season.

The feeder must be capable of keeping seeds dry. Do well to ensure that the feeder has enough space to hold a large quantity of feed.

It is best to choose feeders with bigger capacity and storage that are protected. This kind keeps birdseed dry.

Choosing an appropriate bird feeder will undoubtedly ease the stress of winter maintenance.

Buy Feeders with a cover:

You’ll also need to purchase a feeder with a cover. This is very important to the birds’ well-being.

A cover shields the birds from being showered by snowflakes. It also prevents snow and ice from piling on the feeder.

Clean the feeder:

After a heavy storm, make sure to clear the snow from the feeder. This allows the birds to access the feeds. Also, make certain that the feeding ports are not obstructed by snow.

Fix the feeders:

Feeders get bad as well. It is best to make any necessary repairs to each feeder before the winter season.

But, as we know, nothing lasts forever really. So in cases where the feeders are beyond repair, replace them with new ones.

Place feeders in shielded areas:

This protects them from snow and ice. It also makes refilling them easy.

Feeders can be hung from large tree limbs close to the tree’s trunk. They can also be kept under a covered deck, gazebo, or patio.

Another well-sheltered area to consider is beneath the eaves of a roof. Also, ensure that feeders are securely fastened to poles or hung securely. 

When Should Bird Feeders Be Taken Down?

It’s perfectly okay to keep your feeders up throughout the year. Especially when it is properly cleaned and sanitized.

But it’s also fine to put them down sometimes. Certain conditions can propel you to put your bird feeder down. Some of them include 

To allow birds to hunt by themselves:

After feeding the birds throughout the winter, many people take down their feeders in the spring.

Some people take them down in early summer. This is to enable the birds to search for their food themselves. 

However, most persons don’t take theirs down at all. They continue feeding birds year-round.

There is no proper time for taking down feeders though. You do that on your own time.

When it rains: During the rainy season, there’s a high tendency of water going into your feeders.

If you notice this occurring, it’s best to bring the feeder down. 

It’s better to take down the feeder than let the seed get soaked in the water. This can cause birds to eat seeds potentially plagued by bacteria and mold.

And this would leads to sickness. You can also modify your existing feeders if there’s poor drainage. 

When there’s diseases transmission: Your bird feeder should be brought down when there is a spread of disease.

The essence of bringing it down is to prevent further spread. And also to disinfect the feeder.

Also check out this article I wrote on painting your bird feeders

When Should You Start Feeding Birds For Winter? 

You can start feeding your birds for winter from the first day of winter. There is no particular order to how birds should be fed in this season. 

You can also feed your birds from summer to spring. However, Birds tend to be less dependent on you for food during the summer.

They can search for their food in this season comfortably. 

But that’s not the same for the winter season. Birds find it a lot more difficult to scout for food at this time. This is because of the harsh weather. 

The grounds would likely be covered with snow. And this prevents them from scratching off soil for food. 

Furthermore, tree branches would likely be covered with snow as well thereby causing scarcity of food.

This is why they need to be assisted more during the winter season and early spring. 

Most persons prefer not to feed birds in the spring and summer. This is because food is abundant at this time. However, leaving your feeders up year-round is not a problem. 

What Are Some Tips For Feeding Birds In Winter?

As earlier stated birds need to be fed more during winter. This is because the more food they take in, the more body heat they produce to keep warm in winter. 

However, birds shouldn’t be fed recklessly. There is a “how” to feed them in winter. Do you want to know how best to feed these flying creatures during winter?

Here are some tips that would be helpful to you

1. First off, you have to ensure your feeder is in perfect condition. Ensure it is sanitized and clean. Ensure it is properly hung. 

2. What you feed them in this season is super important. Ensure you provide them with a mix of nutritious seeds. 

Birds need to burn more calories in the winter just to stay warm. Therefore, they would need to be fed with high-energy foods such as suet and sunflowers. 

Suet consists of fat that has 9 calories per gram compared to 4 calories per gram for carbohydrates or protein. Peanuts are also recommended for them in this season. Also, ensure the feeders are full at all times. Refill once the feeds have been consumed.

3. Ensure they are provided with clean water. The need for water for birds cannot be overemphasized. Every living thing needs water to stay hydrated and healthy. 

Do Birds Eat From Feeders At Night

There are two types of birds. Some are active at night and others are active during the day.

Diurnal birds feed during the day while nocturnal birds feed at night. 

Diurnal birds do not eat from bird feeders at night. This is because they are unable to see in low light or at night.

However, no rule says feeders should be brought in at night. They are designed to be left outside.

But, if you should suspect any damage, it is best to bring it down. 

What Time Of The Day Do Birds Feed

As previously stated, some birds can be found eating during the day. Some others eat at night. This is based on when they are most active.

Diurnal birds usually wake up hungry. They can be found in the early hours of the day searching for food. 

You would likely see these birds searching for food when the sun has fully risen. This tends to be the best time where you’ll find more birds out feeding. 

In spring and summer, birds will be out earlier in the mornings as it is generally lighter earlier on in the day.  

However, we have nocturnal birds such as owls which are mostly active at night. They hunt for food during the dark hours. 


Bird feeders are used during the winter season. It is best to use feeders at this time as birds are unable to find food due to the harsh weather condition.

However, the use of bird feeders isn’t restricted to seasons. They can be used during summer, winter, and spring.

Proper maintenance measures should be taken to ensure that bird feeders are in perfect condition. 

Photo of author

About the author

Alex Kountry

Alex Kountry is the founder of HayFarmGuy and has been a backyard farmer for over 10 years. Since then he has decided to write helpful articles that will help you become a better backyard farmer and know what to do. He also loves to play tennis and read books


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