November brings the bird feeding season into full swing

Rob Zimmer
Northern flickers often stick around well into winter, often through the season, if they can find plentiful food. Like all woodpeckers, they love suet and mealworms.

While many of our colorful songbirds have begun their long journey south, the coming of November brings a peak to bird feeding season that will last right through winter.

Many gardeners and nature lovers enjoy feeding and watching the birds throughout the winter months, a time when natural food sources may not be as plentiful, making feeding birds at home a wonderful and exciting adventure.

By feeding a variety of different food types, you'll attract the biggest variety of backyard birds to your feeders and yard.

When it comes to feeding the birds, it is important not to go cheap. To truly help our birds throughout the winter season, quality food sources, packing high energy and nutrients, are best.

Suet feeders

Woodpeckers, especially, along with a variety of colorful songbirds enjoy feasting upon suet. Easy to use, inexpensive and attractive to a variety of species, including several suet feeders among your feeding array will bring excellent results.

There are many varieties of suet cakes or blocks available, many of which now contain additional items such as berries, meal worms and fruit. This makes suet and even more attractive food source for bringing in overwintering robins, bluebirds, waxwings and other species.

Birds love suet, and you'll find many varieties available, often in fun, tasty flavors and blends.

Black oil sunflower

The most commonly used and readily accepted food source by a variety of winter birds are black oil sunflower seeds. Chickadees, white-breasted nuthatches, red-breasted nuthatches, tufted titmouse, cardinal, mourning doves, blue jay and many other birds enjoy feeding on sunflower seeds throughout the winter season.

Striped sunflower seeds are also commonly used, however the smaller size of black oil makes them a great choice for smaller birds that may avoid large, striped seeds.


Safflower is often used by gardeners and birdwatchers who wish to reduce the numbers of house sparrows and starlings that crowd their feeders.

While more expensive than most other food sources, safflower is especially attractive to winter finches, cardinals and other birds.

Birds such as house sparrows and starlings tend to feed on lesser quality food and seed sources, and will avoid areas using safflower heavily.


Shelled or not, peanuts are a fun source of enjoyment for a number of bird species, as well as small mammals, that visit the feeder.

Many species of woodpeckers enjoy feeding upon peanuts in the shell, and watchers enjoy observing the birds pecking through the hull with their powerful beaks to extract the nut inside.

Blue jays are also fond of peanuts and can also be observed chipping away at the shell in woodpecker fashion.

A feeding station does not need to be an elaborate or expensive setup to draw in flocks of colorful birds. Feeding in tube style feeders is a great way to attract winter finches and smaller songbirds.


Corn, whether crushed, whole kernel or full cob, is another popular bird feeding choice for the winter season. Corn attracts a number of excellent bird species to the yard and garden, including many larger birds such as wild turkeys, pheasants, grouse and others.

Finches, with their powerful beaks, also enjoy corn, making it a popular choice among gardeners who enjoy seeing a variety of grosbeaks, cardinals and other winter finches


In open areas especially, where bluebirds tend to move about throughout the winter season, meal worms provide a tasty alternative to seed craps through the winter season.

Many birds enjoy this tasty treat, including robins, catbirds, woodpeckers, bluebirds, and other late migrating or casual overwintering species.

Thistle seed

Goldfinches, pine siskins and other small finches, as well as chickadees, nuthatches and brown creepers enjoy the thin, small seeds of thistle.

Feeding this type of seed in hanging sock feeders is another great way to repower house sparrows and the starlings from the feeding area.

Many bird feeding supply stores and feed mills carry a number of specialty products designed to draw specific birds to your feeding station.

Quality mixes

Many garden centers, bird feeding specialty shops, home improvement stores, and feed mills offer proprietary blends of high-quality bird seed mixes.

Many of these are geared toward attracting specific species or groups of birds, making them attractive to gardeners and bird watchers aiming for the biggest bang for their buck.

These blends are loaded with nutritious, high-quality seed sources and are a much better choice than low dollar mixes that contain mostly filler.

Coming next week, I'll talk about the many styles of birdfeeders available for backyard feeding stations.

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