Winter Birding on Cape Cod

A female Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) on a bird feeder.

The winter weather has finally arrived, and with it has come more challenges for the wild birds on Cape Cod. To make sure that your feathered friends are not left out in the cold this season, there are three main birding aspects to address. Like all other animals, food, shelter, and water are essential to winter health.

While feeding the birds seems obvious, what to feed them during this time of year may not be as clear. For the birds to stay warm during Cape Cod’s cold and wind swept winters, they need to have high-“energy food available. High protein seed, such as sunflower seed & sunflower hearts” and suets give the birds the extra energy they need to stay warm.

Another aspect of feeding wild birds is feeder maintenance. After any snowfall, be sure to clean off your feeders and pack down the snow beneath to encourage ground feeding of any seed that falls out of the feeder.

Keeping water available for the birds is also a multifaceted topic. Birds do need a water source to stay hydrated, but  they need water to be able to stay clean. During the winter, birds need to be clean so they will be able to fluff up their feathers. Fluffing the feathers adds an air insulating layer and helps keep the birds warm. Adding a bird bath and making sure that there is fresh water available will help keep your birds happy and healthy. Birdbath heaters are also available to keep the fresh water from freezing.

As far as shelter is concerned, there are two approaches that can be taken. Birdhouses that are kept up annually will provide shelter and give the birds a place to roost. The other approach would be to look at the landscaping of your home. Planting evergreen shrubs on your property will give wild birds a natural shelter from the harsh winds. Leyland Cypress, Arborvitae, and Rhododendrons make great shelters and thrive on Cape Cod.

Birding can be a year-round activity. Given Cape Cod’s unique climate, the variety of birds can change from season to season. By following the guidelines above, your home can become a haven for the birds all year long!  Agway of Cape Cod has an extensive line of bird seed, suet, feeders and accessories. Stop by any of our three locations and enjoy the winter birding experience!