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How to Help Birds in Winter? 5 Most Effective Methods

Written by Clinton Atkins / Fact Checked by George Dukes

how to help birds in winter

Why is there the need to learn how to help birds in winter when birds are known to have excellent survival ability in the cold months? While your feathered friends are equipped with physical and behavioral adaptations, there might be some situations where they require your assistance. Knowing how to help birds in the snow increases their survival rate and makes them more comfortable in the winter. In this article, we will discuss some actions to help birds. Read on.

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Five Ways To Help Birds in Winter

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There are regions where the winter season make it difficult for avians. You will see birds covered in snow and look like they are on the verge of death. While this is not common, it is not impossible and could happen.

Winter is a challenging time for overwintering birds since there is a food and water supply shortage. Sure they have impressive adaptations, but you can increase their survival and make it easier for them. Here are five ways you can help birds in cold weather.

1. Use a Ground Feeder

Many types of bird feeders are available, but why are ground feeders the best, especially during the winter? Birdwatchers might not like the idea since a ground feeder means seeds spilling on the ground. But birds can take advantage of this and peck on them. The low-lying placement of the feeder offers easy access as it is less exposed compared to hanging feeders.

Most bird species are more comfortable dining from a ground feeder. This includes Snow Buntings, Bluebirds, Northern Cardinals, Fox Sparrows, Pigeons, Doves, Starlings, Grackles, and more.

2. Build a Shelter for the Birds

There are many types of birdhouses, from fancy ones with four walls and a roof to winter roosting boxes for birds. Whatever shelter you plan to build, ensure that it is designed to provide your feathered neighbors a cozy and safe space to escape from the cold wind. Make sure to clean your birdhouses so there would be no parasitic bugs that can cause another problem for the birds.

If you are short on time and want to make winter shelter for birds fast, make a windbreak for birds. You can use an old Christmas tree, some large pieces of plywood, and the remains of a brush pile.

The tree will go on the side, the plywood wedge into the snow, and the brush pile serving as the walls. It can effectively protect the birds from the weather by significantly reducing the wind.

3. Refill Feeders Early and Late in the Day

Birds use a lot of their reserved energy at night to keep themselves warm, and that is why they need to eat and recharge immediately when the morning comes. It would be best to fill your feeder early in the day for this reason.

The same principle applies to ensuring a food supply available before the sun sets in the afternoon. With filled feeders, birds can stuff themselves with food for an extra energy boost to combat the freezing evening to come.

4. Serve Fresh Water Supply With a Heated Bird Bath

Winter time often means frozen rivers and lakes. This presents a problem for the birds since there is no water. While they can eat snow as an alternative to drinking water, it will take a lot of energy. This is the last resort for them to stay hydrated while looking for a liquid food source.

A heated bird bath is a solution to help a frozen bird to provide a fresh water supply amid the icy months. This will give birds a water source that will not freeze despite the chilling weather condition. If you have a bird feeder, a heated bird bath can attract more birds than a feeder alone.

5. Provide High-fat Foods

The key to increasing the chances of overwintering birds’ survival is for them to gather more energy quickly. High-energy foods like suet, peanut butter, peanuts, oil sunflower seeds, and meat scraps are some of the best options you can consider for your bird feeder in the winter. These food choices are high in fat, protein, and calories. Plus, they are quick and easy for the bird to eat, making feeding more efficient.

Switch up the food in your feeder when the winter is just around the corner. Depending on the type of feeder you have, you can accommodate specific bird food like an iron feeder for a suet cake and a ground or tube feeder for seeds.

Additional Tips

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  • If you have fruit-bearing trees or shrubs in your garden near your bird feeders, leave some fruits or berries. These will serve as an easy and fresh food source for the birds throughout the winter.
  • Shovel or stamp snow around your ground feeders to make it easier for the birds to access the spilled seeds. It will also lessen wasted seeds and ensure every grain is eaten.
  • Place your feeders close to natural covers where they can hide like hedges and trees. But leave enough distance to prevent predators from making an ambush.
  • Keep squirrels away from your feeder with pest repellents and temporary mesh or fencing. You can also offer other food for these pesky pests at a different location, so they are less tempted to raid the ones intended for your feathered friends.

Prepare ahead of time by staying up to date with the weather developments. It will give you enough time to stock up on bird food and prepare to take on the activities mentioned above.

Conclusion

Now that you know how to help birds in winter, we hope you can execute them once the cold months start in your region. These are effective ways to keep outside birds warm in winter. Your feathered friends will surely chirp a thank you for your assistance and return the favor by visiting you often.

If you know someone who wants to help wild birds and save a freezing bird, share this article with them. For those who have experienced the methods we mentioned, leave a comment. We love reading your stories!

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Clinton-Atkins


Clinton Atkins

Author

Hi, I'm Clinton. Rocky and I became friends after a birdwatching trip with our new group. And we have been enjoying every adventure together. When he told me the idea of establishing a site that shares our experiences and fun, I immediately agreed. After trials and errors, here we have Thayerbirding.

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