Just before a storm, the birds seem to feed heavily.
By the time the snow comes most of the feed is gone. As soon
as the storm is over, it’s time to refill the feeders.
The birds are usually waiting and in quickly. They will feed
during a snowstorm, but it’s hard to keep the seeds
uncovered. After the snow plows go through, the road is filled
with birds getting gravel to help grind the food in the gizzard.
I have had many calls from people who say that the birds
do not come in to feed. I really don’t know the answer.
There might be several reasons. There might be a predator
hanging around, such as a cat under a bush or a Cooper’s
Hawk sitting nearby. The birds know when these predators are
about. Also, if the food stays there too long without being
eaten it gets wet and ferments and is not good for them to
Some feeders look filled when they may be filled with leftover
sunflower shucks. One of my feeders is a plastic bottle with
a hole in the side. The finches sit in there and shuck the
seeds. I think the feeder is still full until I check and
find mostly shucks.
Birds need shelter nearby. If there are no shrubs or trees,
you might try a brush pile. This works really well and the
birds will spend a lot of the day sitting in the branches.
The brush pile can be removed in the spring and small shrubs
can be planted for another year.
When it’s an open winter with very little snow, the
birds have plenty of food and may not bother to come in, but
when the snow is deep and much of the food is covered they
will be looking for easy pickings. It may take a while to
establish a new feeding station, but they should come in.