6 Best Winter Bird Feeders: Everything You Need To Know About These Feeders

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Many birds leave us for the winter, following the shorter days to warmer locales.

But there are those that stick it out with us for the dark, cold months of the year, brightening the dreary weather with their cheerful presence and backyard acrobatics.

As the birds battle the weather, searching for food and shelter, making the most of every calorie, it’s only natural that we’d want to lend them a hand.

How do bird feeders figure into that equation? What kind of bird feeders work best in the winter? How does your feeder routine change in the winter?

In this guide, we’ll answer your most frequently asked questions about winter bird feeders, including what to do when it snows.

We’ll also cover considerations to keep in mind when choosing a bird feeder for winter. Once you’ve all the basics, we’ll hand-pick the best winter bird feeders for your backyard.

Product Name
Extra Large Size
Dutch Crafters Deluxe Hopper Feeder with Two Suet Cages
Easy to clean
Aspects Window Cafe Mount Feeder
Squirrel Proof
Perky Pet Squirrel-be-Gone II Home Style Bird Feeder
Image
DutchCrafters Large Plastic Poly Deluxe Hopper Bird Feeder with Two Suet Cages for Outdoor Wild Birds - Amish Made in USA (Black & Cedar, Mount Style - Hanging)
JCs Wildlife Green and Tan Large Fly Thru Bird Feeder with Removable Seed Tray with Drainage Holes - Holds 8 Cups of Bird Seed - Platform Bird Feeder - Easy to Clean
Perky-Pet 339-1SR Squirrel-Be-Gone II Home Style Bird Feeder with Chimney, Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder with Weight-Activated Perches, Large 8lb Capacity Outdoor Wild Bird Feeder
Customer Rating
Material
Poly Lumber, Plastic
Stainless Steel, Plastic
Metal
Mounting Type
Hanging Mount
Hanging or Pole Mounted
Hanging Mount
Weight
5.79 pounds
10 Pounds
8 Pounds
Size
15"L x 11"W x 9.5"H
17.5"L x 10.25"W x 11"H
14.4"L x 11.82"W x 10.71"H
Extra Large Size
Product Name
Dutch Crafters Deluxe Hopper Feeder with Two Suet Cages
Image
DutchCrafters Large Plastic Poly Deluxe Hopper Bird Feeder with Two Suet Cages for Outdoor Wild Birds - Amish Made in USA (Black & Cedar, Mount Style - Hanging)
Customer Rating
Material
Poly Lumber, Plastic
Mounting Type
Hanging Mount
Weight
5.79 pounds
Size
15"L x 11"W x 9.5"H
Easy to clean
Product Name
Aspects Window Cafe Mount Feeder
Image
JCs Wildlife Green and Tan Large Fly Thru Bird Feeder with Removable Seed Tray with Drainage Holes - Holds 8 Cups of Bird Seed - Platform Bird Feeder - Easy to Clean
Customer Rating
Material
Stainless Steel, Plastic
Mounting Type
Hanging or Pole Mounted
Weight
10 Pounds
Size
17.5"L x 10.25"W x 11"H
Squirrel Proof
Product Name
Perky Pet Squirrel-be-Gone II Home Style Bird Feeder
Image
Perky-Pet 339-1SR Squirrel-Be-Gone II Home Style Bird Feeder with Chimney, Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder with Weight-Activated Perches, Large 8lb Capacity Outdoor Wild Bird Feeder
Customer Rating
Material
Metal
Mounting Type
Hanging Mount
Weight
8 Pounds
Size
14.4"L x 11.82"W x 10.71"H

Last update on 2022-12-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Should You Use Bird Feeders in the Winter?

Yes, winter is a wonderful time to feed the birds! They use more energy to battle the cold and wet, and food sources are more scarce.

Having a reliable feeder around, especially with high-energy treats like suet, nuts, and mealworms, can be the boost birds need to get through the harshest months of the year.

It’s also been shown that the availability of bird feeders is helping birds of different species, such as hummingbirds, expand their ranges, stick around longer, or even become year-round residents.

If you’re going to put feeders out in the winter, make sure you can be consistent. There’re different types of bird feeders, including weather-resistant ones that are ideal for colder weather. 

You can establish a bird feeding station with a removable base for your feathered friends. Ensure you clean the base on a regular basis. There are a variety of feeder types, including special feeders and tray feeders. 

You can use the feeder with different types of food for your feathered friends, including natural foods, mixed seeds, and safflower seeds. The feeder placement is crucial for these bird species. 

Birds rely more on your feeder than they would during the warmer months when food is abundant. If you plan to travel, try to arrange for a neighbor or friend to fill your feeders.

What Do You Do With Bird Feeders When It Snows?

After a snowstorm, clear feeders of any snow and ice that could be blocking birds from the seed. Ensure the seed is not wet–wet seeds can mold and spoil quickly.

Shake the feeder and make sure it’s still flowing freely, and refill it if it’s getting low. Birds go through seeds faster in the winter because they burn more energy.

Stomp down the snow around the feeders so that ground-feeding birds can easily get at fallen seeds.

Sometimes storms can damage feeders, which is a safety hazard for the birds, so be sure to repair or replace any damaged feeders as soon as possible.

When Should I Put Out My Winter Bird Feeder?

Putting out your feeders during the fall migration, in September and October, will help traveling birds and let year-round residents find your feeders ahead of winter storms.

If you live in an area where bears approaching feeders could be an issue, don’t put out feeders until the bears begin their hibernation–follow local guidelines, but usually, November 1st is safe.

If bears or other larger mammals are not a concern in your area, it’s perfectly fine to feed birds year-round too! 

To keep the bird feeder tiny, ensure bird excrement does not fall in the feeder. This can make your birds sick due to contamination. Provide them with clean water as well. 

Do Bird Feeders Attract Birds in Winter?

Definitely! Snow might bury food sources in the winter, and plants and insects will be in shorter supply. A nice, visible feeder stocked with fresh food can draw plenty of active birds to your yard.

Consider adding a water source to attract even more birds to your feeders. Drinking water can be hard for birds to find in the winter, so putting out a bath is a real draw.

Consider adding stones and other perches to your bird bath, so birds don’t have to get in the water during the cold weather.

Where Do You Hang Bird Feeders in the Winter?

Make sure your bird feeders are placed far enough from dense cover like shrubs so that birds can escape predators such as cats. 10 feet is a good distance.

Hanging feeders should be about 5 feet off the ground, which helps to avoid squirrels reaching them. It’s also very important that feeders be positioned either 3 feet or 30 feet from windows to avoid deadly window collisions.

Ensure that you have access to maintain the feeders regularly, and consider how snow or ice could get in the way before placing your feeders. You’ll need a pathway to reach the feeders easily, so refilling and cleaning them isn’t a problem.

How Do You Clean Bird Feeders in the Winter?

Bird feeders need to be cleaned more often in wet weather, so snow and ice mean more maintenance. Seeds can easily spoil if they get wet, especially if they’re enclosed, such as in a hopper feeder.

Feeders should be cleaned at least every two weeks. Scrub the feeder until all visible dirt and debris are removed, then soak it with a solution of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water. The bird feeder has to dry completely before you refill it.

It’s also important to clean up the ground under your bird feeders in the winter by scraping away the snow that has discarded shells and waste on it. This will help to prevent the spread of disease in the birds.

Are Plastic or Metal Bird Feeders Better?

Both plastic and metal are fine if you choose a sturdy, high-quality feeder. Experts recommend choosing the best feeder you can afford, with watertight construction and chew-proof material.

Plastic and metal can be kept clean, and sufficiently sturdy plastics and resins resist squirrels.

What To Consider When Choosing a Winter Bird Feeder

When you’re feeding backyard birds in the winter, you want to bring the most birds to your yard by offering a variety of foods to serve their needs. This will then determine what kind of feeder you’re going to select.

The universal favorite is black oil sunflower seeds if you can offer only one kind of food. This easy-to-eat seed is a good source of protein. Peanuts, millet, and cracked corn are other popular and healthy options.

The excellent food to offer in the winter is suet. Appreciated by a wide variety of birds, suet provides much-needed fat, protein, and calories to boost birds through the cold weather.

You can read our complete guide to the best suet cakes for birds for all the information you’ll need. 

When choosing bird feeders for winter, you’ll want to find styles to accommodate the different foods the birds need.

You should also consider whether the feed is protected from the elements. Does the feeder have a roof or cover? Is the feeder watertight? If it has a tray underneath, does it have drainage to let water out?

Next, you need to know whether the construction of the feeder can withstand wind, snow, ice, and extreme temperature changes it will be subjected to throughout the season. A feeder that splinters or cracks are no longer safe for the birds.

Now that we’ve reviewed all the important considerations for winter bird feeders let’s take a look at the best winter bird feeders for your backyard!

Best Winter Bird Feeders

Perky Pet 312 Panorama Wild Bird Feeder

Last update on 2022-12-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

What We Like:

  • Large seed capacity to meet birds’ winter needs
  • Wide roof to protect birds and seeds from snow
  • Rust-resistant construction is ready for wet weather
  • Affordably priced

Cons:

  • It may not be squirrel-proof

LUJII Shatterproof Window Bird Feeder

LUJII Shatterproof Window Bird Feeder with Strongest Suction Cups, Polycarbonate Window Mount Feeder with Crystal Clear View & Life-Out Tray, Fits Bigger Birds Like Cardinal or Blue Jay, Clear
  • 100% SHATTERPROOF POLYCARBONATE WINDOW BIRD FEEDER: Our innovative, modern feeder is produced via injection molding with premium...
  • STRONGEST SUCTION CUPS THAT NEVER FALL OFF: They are able to carry up to 22lb weight for months without falling off, which means...
  • DESIGNED WITH BIRD'S HEALTH, SAFETY & COMFORT IN MIND: Unlike other low-end Acrylic feeders, our feeder does not have any sharp...

Last update on 2022-12-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

What We Like:

  • Sturdy shatterproof construction
  • See the birds up close and personal
  • Feeding close to your home for shelter from the winter elements

Cons:

  • On the small side
  • Positioning means a limited range of birds can enjoy this feeder

SEWANTA Suet Bird Feeder

Suet Bird Feeder for Outside [Double Capacity] Suet Wild Bird Feeder with Hanging Metal Roof, Suet Feeders for Outside, for Use with Suet Cakes, Seed Cakes, Mealworm Cakes
  • DOUBLE SUET CAKE BIRD FEEDER - Beautiful bird feeder, can hold 2 suet cakes to attract many species of tree-clinging & perching...
  • ATTRACTS CLINGING BIRDS - [2] suet cake Capacity: In the winter Fill it up with Suet or seed cakes. Oranges, Bread, nesting...
  • DURABLE CONSTRUCTION - Square design; Easy to fill with suet cakes. Door closure system secures cakes in place; EASE MAINTENANCE -...

Last update on 2022-12-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

What We Like:

  • Double cake capacity
  • The roof protects suet from snow
  • Convenient bottom-loading design

Cons:

  • It may be difficult for larger birds to access

Dutch Crafters Deluxe Hopper Feeder with Two Suet Cages

DutchCrafters Large Plastic Poly Deluxe Hopper Bird Feeder with Two Suet Cages for Outdoor Wild Birds - Amish Made in USA (Black & Cedar, Mount Style - Hanging)
  • Large Capacity: Center Hopper Dispenses Seed from the Bottom of the Feeder Through the Cutouts. Add Suet Cakes to the Suet Cages...
  • Features: 2 Suet Cages on Sides, Hopper Seed Dispenser, Stainless Steel Hanging Mount, Hinged Roof for Easy Refilling and Cleaning...
  • Dimensions: 15" Width x 11" Depth x 9.5" Height, Weight: 6 lbs. Our Feeder Holds 2 - 9 oz. Suet Cakes on Each Side and About 4 lbs...

Last update on 2022-12-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

What We Like:

  • Both seed and suet feeding
  • Super sturdy construction
  • Made from recycled materials
  • Extra large size to accommodate all birds

Cons:

  • On the pricey side

JC’s Wildlife Large Fly-Through Platform Bird Feeder

JCs Wildlife Green and Tan Large Fly Thru Bird Feeder with Removable Seed Tray with Drainage Holes - Holds 8 Cups of Bird Seed - Platform Bird Feeder - Easy to Clean
  • Made entirely out of poly lumber. Won't crack, split, or fade. Will last for years and years to come.
  • Removable seed tray with handle which makes refilling super easy! Will hold approximately 8 cups of seed.
  • Made in the USA in Southern Indiana by skilled birders!

Last update on 2022-12-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

What We Like

  • The covered feeder with drainage is ready for winter weather
  • Winter favorite birds like cardinals prefer platform feeding
  • Removable seed trays are easy to clean

Cons:

  • Not squirrel-proof
  • Expensive

Perky Pet Squirrel-be-Gone II Home Style Bird Feeder

Sale
Perky-Pet 339-1SR Squirrel-Be-Gone II Home Style Bird Feeder with Chimney, Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder with Weight-Activated Perches, Large 8lb Capacity Outdoor Wild Bird Feeder
  • Keep Squirrels Out - When squirrels try to access the feeder, the weight-activated perch is pulled down, blocking access to the...
  • Durable Design - The metal is finished with a powder coating, adding to the rustic finish, and ensuring rust resistance for...
  • Easy to Clean and Fill - The removable lid and large opening make the feeder easy to fill and clean. The windows also allow you to...

Last update on 2022-12-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

What We Like

  • The covered design protects seeds from the elements during winter
  • Convertible hanging or pole mount
  • Squirrel-proof spring-loaded perch
  • Large capacity for winter seed needs

Cons:

  • The enclosed seed area can encourage mold and spoilage

Feeders on Ice

Choosing and maintaining a bird feeder in the winter is just like using feeders during the rest of the year, with only a few extra steps.

You want to make sure that you’re taking into account the extreme cold, snow, and ice that come along with winter and birds’ increased caloric needs. Once you’ve got that covered, you’re all set. Happy bird watching!

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Stevie Miller

Stevie Miller is a freelance writer with over a decade of experience. Her lifelong passion for birds began young, starting with a citizen science project at her aunt’s bird feeders, followed by a memorable first-time birdwatching trip to Assateague Island. Later, she got the opportunity to help birds directly while working as a veterinary assistant. Now she enjoys frequent time outdoors, traveling extensively to observe the birds, animals, and plants that inspire her writing and artwork.