Not all birds migrate—some prefer to stick around. Living in Utah, we all know the realities of weathering a harsh winter, so it's our charge to help out our local bird residents.  Green Earth Media Group and birding expert Elaine Cole offered us some tips on how to care for our fine feathered friends during these last few months of winter.

Contrary to what you might suppose, winter is one of the easiest seasons to lure birds into your backyard. Because the rigid season gives rise to some of the highest bird mortality rates of the year, birds are naturally drawn into any safe haven you create. 

To begin, consider your bird feed options. Bird feeds are available a dime a dozen, but in truth many are subsidized with low quality filling that even the birds won't touch. Some even contain toxins that could even harm the environment. If you're unsure where to start, our experts suggest Cole's Wild Bird Feed as a smart pick. We also like the selection at Backyard Birds in Salt Lake City. But what's most important to remember is to use feeds high in oil and fat to provide birds with the energy they need:

  • Black Oil Sunflower Seeds
  • Suet
  • Peanuts
  • Niger
  • Fruit
  • Seed mixes: These  are a great low-budget alternative, but once again watch out for the low-quality stuff! A way to tell if you're buying a good meal is if it has great amounts of sunflower seeds and millet, but is low on wheat, milo, and corn. 

It's up to you to decide what feeder to use, and what works best with your feed. Just remember to keep that birdfeed as a safe haven—placing it well outside the reach of potential dangers such as cats and hawks. Elaine Cole suggests paying attention to the prints in the snow to learn which predators might be hungering after your bird friends.

The next step is providing a fresh and flowing source of water by installing a fountain or adding spritzers to your birdbath. And if heated, birds will flock to the promise of a warm bath for sure. Lastly, to provide a warm home, install a roosting place such as a birdhouse or other cozy bird shelters.

If you follow these steps, you are sure to earn some friends in your backyard. The reward will be sweet—when you tire of seeing a whited-out world, you may see a red or blue spot flit across your backyard to cozy up in the safe haven you carefully constructed.

This post was originally published on utahstyleanddesign.com