There are so many beautiful wild birds living in Indiana – and fortunately for us — most of them stick around all year. Although the stay and overwinter in the Hoosier state, Mother Nature doesn’t always make it easy for them to find enough food. That’s where bird lovers can help.

Native Indiana birds require a lot of fuel to keep their small bodies warm in our occasionally harsh winters. So, bird food loaded with fat and calories helps birds struggling to survive. “The best seeds for providing energy are black oil sunflower, striped sunflower and safflower,” according to Wild Birds Unlimited. Suet is also a good high-energy good to provide, as well as dried mealworms.”

Birds have different diet preferences, and different species prefer different feeder styles. Open feeders with trays or perches will attract a decent variety of birds, but to maximize bird feeding it is essential to use different feeders.

  • Consider a mesh sock with smaller seeds and millet for goldfinches and chickadees.
  • Suet feeders for woodpeckers
  • Mealworm dishes for bluebirds
  • Blue Jays and cardinals love peanuts, corn, beechnuts, and acorns
  • Jelly feeders for orioles
  • A mixed assortment of seeds is good for sparrows and grackles, and other birds will stop in as well.
  • Wild ducks like corn, oatmeal, sunflower, pumpkin and other seeds to supplement their diets. (Don’t feed them bread, which is terrible for them.)

Owls, red-tailed hawks, Cooper’s hawks and falcons are all meat eaters, who will definitely come to an active bird feeder – but probably to feast on your birds. Make sure you have cover (like bushes or a tree) nearby.

A note of caution from the bird experts at Wild Birds Unlimited:“Once you begin feeding our wild birds, they will depend on you as a source of food for their survival. Keep up the practice until spring is in full swing.”

And since females will need to stock up to be able to form new baby bird eggs in early spring, consider putting a little extra food out in February and March.

Enjoy the bird watching at your feeder this winter – and know you are helping out Mother Nature and our beautiful feathered wild friends.