51 Best Winter Bird Photos Ever

As temperatures dip, look no further than your backyard to see how full of life this blustery season truly is.

As temperatures dip, look no further than your backyard to see how full of life this blustery season truly is. From plump red cardinals huddled along a fence to a sleepy owl with snow-covered feathers, warm up with 51 amazing winter bird photos from Birds & Blooms readers. (Psst! If you want to learn more about photographing the birds in your backyard, check out our articles on bird photography here!)

5 Ideas from Readers for Feeding Winter Birds

1. Birds love fruit in winter. I offer apples, grapes, cherries and oranges—whatever is on sale at the grocery store. Cut round fruits, like apples and oranges, into 1/2-inch disks to make it easier for birds to eat. (Ron Adler of St. Peters, Missouri)

2. Use items right from your own kitchen! Offer cooked pasta and rice for jays, woodpeckers and titmice. Peanut butter attracts chickadees and woodpeckers. And put out some raisins for a few surprise cold-weather visitors. (Ellie Martin Cliffe of Milwaukee, Wisconsin)

3. I’ve fed suet blocks to birds for many years. But a less expensive way to satisfy their suet appetite is to simply spread lard on the bark of trees. They love it, and it’s a fun way to watch them. (Bruce Schaffner of Cochrane, Wisconsin) Read more! Suet Basics: How to Make Suet for Birds

4. Excluding bacon, which can harm birds, I try to save grease from meats in a refrigerated container. When winter comes, I place the hardened fat at my feeders for my feathered friends. (Jill Hersch of Ayr, North Dakota)

5. Make grapevine wreaths and then decorate them with suet balls, popcorn, cranberry garland and dried fruit. They’re a hit with birds and squirrels. (Jay and Paula Johnson of Duluth, Minnesota)

Read More! Attract Winter Birds to Your Own Backyard…

photo credit: Nelda Faulkner (B&B reader)

1. Northern Cardinal

It doesn’t often snow in Alabama, but when it does, watch out! This female cardinal was caught in a rare snowstorm here, and I snapped this photo while she waited her turn for seed at the bird feeder. —Nelda Faulkner of Leeds, Alabama

photo credit: Bob Anderson (B&B reader)

2. Mourning Dove

At 7 degrees, it was a cold late afternoon in January. This mourning dove was puffed up as large as possible to retain all the heat it could. Bob Anderson of Severna Park, Maryland

photo credit: Lucinda Moriarty (B&B reader)

3. Eastern Bluebird

Eastern bluebirds are so beautiful and entertaining. My husband and I love feeding them and watching them hop around our rural Connecticut yard. In late February, the bluebirds return from their winter retreats and scout for nests. This male eastern bluebird landed in our kousa dogwood tree after he discovered some dried mealworms waiting for him.Lucinda Moriarty of East Hampton, Connecticut

photo credit: Donna Pittman (B&B reader)

4. Mockingbird

All types of birds visited our feeders last winter, and this particular mockingbird stopped by every day. I wanted to get a photo of it, and as I lifted the camera, it turned to look right at me. It seems to be saying, “What are you looking at?” —Donna Pittman of Mountain Home, Arkansas

photo credit: Fred Harwood (B&B reader)

5. American Robin

Our son-in-law’s tree nursery has tons of winter birding opportunities, especially when it comes to bluebirds, cedar waxwings, and American robins like this one. They come to feast on crabapples hanging in clusters from bare branches. I love walking among the nursery trees, watching as hungry birds forage for drying fruits. —Fred Hardwood of Sheffield, Massachusetts

photo credit: Melissa Jones (B&B reader)

6. Anna’s Hummingbird

We had a little snow last winter, and this Anna’s hummingbird was still hanging around our backyard. A single snowflake landed on its head. I was so happy to have caught this moment on camera. —Melissa Jones of Longview, Washington

photo credit: Jack Dean (B&B reader)

7. Dark-Eyed Junco

Dark-eyed juncos visit my home state of Kentucky only in wintertime, so this snowy background fits quite well. Jack Dean of California, Kentucky

photo credit: Nina Graff (B&B reader)

8. Black-Capped Chickadee

Black-capped chickadees splashed in tiny bits of melting snow one early spring day on our deck. I wanted to make things easier on them, so I put out a dish of warm water. They really seemed to enjoy their first bath of the season. Nina Graff of Crystal Falls, Michigan

photo credit: Alycia Raby (B&B reader)

9. California Scrub-Jay

Last February, I explored the Prime Desert Woodland Preserve in Lancaster, California. I had gone to the park around sunset to take pictures of the eye-catching Joshua trees. A California scrub-jay landed nearby, and the evening light hit its side perfectly. Sometimes the best photos are lucky accidents. —Alycia Raby of Lancaster, California

photo credit: Cindy Shiock (B&B reader)

10. Black-Capped Chickadee

I snapped this black-capped chickadee stopping for a snack during one of the snowiest days last winter. When the weather is so brisk, it’s hard to keep the pinecone feeders full! I think my backyard birds are grateful for the tasty treats. Cindy Shiock of Reynoldsville, Pennsylvania

photo credit: Lucian Parshall (B&B reader)

11. Blue Jay

Winter can be harsh here, but a pleasing photo makes braving the elements worth it. I was excited to take my new DSLR camera for a spin, and this blue jay was cooperative long enough to take a second look at me. Then it sounded its jay-jay alarm and flew off into the cold. —Lucian Parshall of Brighton, Michigan

photo credit: Phil Loparco (B&B reader)

12. Junco, Northern Cardinal and American Tree Sparrow

My backyard birds needed a spot to wait their turn at the feeder, so I set up a tree limb nearby. One morning, these three birds stopped over for breakfast. From left, I identified their species: junco, northern cardinal and American tree sparrow. Though they don’t usually tolerate each other, they all sat together as the snow fell around them. Phil Loparco of Cortland, New York

photo credit: Jean Owens (B&B reader)

13. Downy Woodpecker

I was thrilled to catch sight of this downy woodpecker with its feathers all puffed out to stay warm one icy morning. To me, it looks like she’s singing for spring to arrive. Jean Owens of Paris, Tennessee

photo credit: Rebecca Granger (B&B reader)

14. Tufted Titmouse

The snow was softly falling when this tufted titmouse came in to feed one early winter morning. It sat on this branch, feathers fluffed to keep warm. This photo is one of my favorites. Rebecca Granger of Bancroft, Michigan

photo credit: Pam Koch (B&B reader)

15. Northern Flicker and European Starling

A harsh winter in Flagstaff meant having as many as 25 northern flickers in my yard at one time, bickering over suet cake. I started putting it on the tops of fence posts to reduce the frenzy at the feeder. On this occasion, a European starling flew in for the suet and the flicker chased the starling away. Pam Koch of Dewey, Arizona

photo credit: Gary Garton (B&B reader)

16. Mourning Dove

In the waning days of a very long winter, I stood on my porch one morning wishing that spring would suddenly appear. Just then, this mourning dove landed on a nearby maple tree branch and, for that moment, brought me the promise that spring might soon come. Gary Garton of Rhinelander, Wisconsin

photo credit: Kate Bruce (B&B reader)

17. Swans

Swans aren’t a common sight here. Imagine my delight when I walked to our pond one morning and spotted a female swan asleep on the ice. I started photographing her as the rising sun’s glow warmed her fluffy body. Later on, her mate joined her. I watched as he swam over and woke her up. You could truly tell they were a mated pair. It was one of the most beautiful things I’d ever seen. I stayed out there in the freezing cold for hours, photographing the lovely swan couple. Kate Bruce of Zebulon, North Carolina

photo credit: Steve Trupiano (B&B reader)

18. Eastern Bluebirds

It was a bitterly cold winter, but for the first time, we had eastern bluebirds in our yard. After they got a drink from the heated birdbath, they flew over to one of our trees. Initially they were spread out across the branch, but inch by inch they shuffled toward each other until they were huddled together for warmth.Steve Trupiano of O’Fallon, Missouri

photo credit: Madelyn Bonnett (B&B reader)

19. Northern Cardinal

If this male northern cardinal was grumpy, I don’t blame him. I was sitting inside where it was toasty warm, and he was out in the bracing cold. He perched in the dogwood tree right outside our kitchen window while a strong dusting of snow came down. Whenever we head to the feeder to fill it up, he peeps excitedly at us. Madelyn Carr Bonnett of Columbiana, Alabama

photo credit: Robyn Battenfield (B&B reader)

20. House Finches

A few weeks before Christmas, a heavy snow fell and birds flocked to my feeding station. I love bird-watching and I love photography, so I bundled up and went outside to wait for the perfect shot of these freezing house finches. Robyn Battenfield of Muskogee, Oklahoma

photo credit: Brian Rohland (B&B reader)

21. Blue Jay

A sudden snowfall left us (and our backyard birds) with a foot of wet, heavy snow. The feeders were bustling with activity, and at one point, there were about 11 blue jays vying for a spot at one feeder alone. I was pleased to get some pictures of this royal-looking bird as it rested stoically on a honeysuckle branch. As I snapped away, snow continued to pile up, including on the blue jay itself. Brian Rohland of Bloomer, Wisconsin

photo credit: Doug Wean (B&B reader)

22. White-Breasted Nuthatch

A suet feeder hangs just outside our window all year long, and I try to keep my camera handy for moments like this one. This white-breasted nuthatch joined my wife and me for breakfast one blustery morning, and I took this snapshot to remember how we weathered the winter together. Doug Wean of Oregon, Illinois

photo credit: Cindi Sathra (B&B reader)

23. Eastern Bluebirds

Eastern bluebirds are common visitors outside my kitchen window, but I’ve never seen a pair perched like this before. These birds never cease to amaze me with their many different expressions. Cindi Sathra of Upper Black Eddy, Pennsylvania

photo credit: Cheryl Pluchinsky (B&B reader)

24. Cooper’s Hawk

All I heard was screeching, and at first I thought it might be a blue jay. But I followed the sounds in our wooded backyard, and I discovered this Cooper’s hawk sitting in one of our trees. I knew I had a camera ham on my hands when it let me get super close to take a few snapshots. Cheryl Pluchinsky of Poland, Ohio

photo credit: Don Kaddatz (B&B reader)

25. Common Redpoll

Common redpolls fly down from Canada in winter to feed as far south as central Minnesota, which is where I live. But if there’s enough food to go around up north, the redpolls won’t usually venture down here. Last winter, experts predicted that this species would stay in Canada for the season, so it was a nice surprise to have a huge flock show up at my thistle feeders from January through early March. I took this from a photo blind, which allowed me to get close and observe these fun little birds feeding undisturbed. Don Kaddatz of Mora, Minnesota

photo credit: Barb Dienhart (B&B reader)

26. American Robins

Last February, this flock of American robins frequently visited and emptied the birdbath in our front yard. I had to fill it back up every afternoon. What you can’t see in this photograph is all the other bird bathers patiently waiting their turn.Barb Dienhart of Mokelumne Hill, California

photo credit: Deb Brokaw (B&B reader)

27. Black-Capped Chickadee

Winters can be long and cold in southeastern Michigan, so bird-watching is a favorite seasonal pastime. The black-capped chickadees are amusing to watch as they snatch sunflower seeds from the neighbor’s feeder and land on tree branches to crack the shells open and eat the seeds. This little one took a short break and I was able to capture this moment. I love the beautiful blue sky in the background highlighting the details of its feathers. Deb Brokaw of St. Clair Shores, Michigan

photo credit: Connie Bocko (B&B reader)

28. Barred Owl

Business at the feeder was uncharacteristically quiet, with the exception of a few noisy crows expressing their displeasure with this barred owl visitor. The owl was as unfazed by the crows’ rude calls as it was by the snow piling up on its head. It perched by the backyard feeder for the entire morning and into the afternoon. Connie Bocko of Waterville, New York

photo credit: Teri Metts (B&B reader)

29. Common Grackle

A rare Mississippi snow blew through our area and this common grackle stopped to pout outside our kitchen window. His expression reminds me of an Angry Birds character. I imagine him saying, “I chose to live in Mississippi for a reason! What’s up with all this white stuff falling from the sky?” —Teri Metts of Mendenhall, Mississippi

photo credit: Carol Estes (B&B reader)

30. Northern Cardinals

This wasn’t a normal day with my camera. Just about every male and female cardinal from the surrounding area came in to feed after a harsh blizzard. My fence is usually popular with neighborhood birds waiting their turn to eat, but this was a very special moment. Carol Estes of LaPorte, Indiana

photo credit: Sandi Sullivan (B&B reader)

31. Tufted Titmouse

I put crunchy peanuts out for the squirrels, especially during winters with heavy snowfall. Last year, I caught this little tufted titmouse stealing away with a few morsels. Sandi Sullivan of Rensselaer, New York

photo credit: Deb Hagen (B&B reader)

32. American Robin

The American robins were hungry and flying through the air, snapping up berries in their beaks. I watched as this particular bird grabbed a treat and took off. Later,
I examined the photo more carefully and noticed his leg. It looks like he lost part of it. What a bird! —Deb Hagen of Hutchinson, Kansas

photo credit: Jason Baden (B&B reader)

33. Blue Jay

I sat outside in zero-degree weather to get this amazing shot of a blue
jay. The result shows it was definitely worth it! —Jason Baden of Charlotte, North Carolina

photo credit: Noelle Sippel (B&B reader)

34. Northern Cardinal

Right outside our back window we have a variety of trees and shrubs that the birds
love to use as shelter from the elements. It’s also the perfect photography setup. Cardinals are among my favorites to photograph in winter because of the stark contrast their feathers create with the falling snow. Noelle Sippel of Webster, New York

photo credit: Dave Lyman (B&B reader)

35. Cooper’s Hawk

A juvenile Cooper’s hawk had been hanging around our backyard for a few weeks, always just out of reach of my camera. As luck would have it, the hawk happened to perch outside our bedroom window when the light was just right. I was able to capture
this pretty moment. Dave Lyman of Kalamazoo, Michigan

photo credit: Laura Kelley (B&B reader)

36. Barred Owl

I came upon this barred owl during a chilly afternoon hike in Pinckney, Michigan.
It didn’t seem to notice me or care that I was there. The owl was totally at peace, inspecting the tree branch upon which it was perched. Laura Kelley of Southfield, Michigan

photo credit: Catherine Melvin (B&B reader)

37. White-Breasted Nuthatch

When it snows in Maine, my backyard transforms into a white winter wonderland. Birds take advantage of my many feeders. I love watching them interact with each other or simply stop by to pay me a visit through my camera lens. This white-breasted nuthatch was very determined to get its fill from my feeder, even though the seeds were ice-coated from freezing rain. With the sun shining and that sharp little beak at work, it got its meal. —Catherine Melvin of Windham, Maine

photo credit: Christy Brucks (B&B reader)

38. American Goldfinch

Last winter was particularly brutal, with frequent snowstorms. The day I took this photo, the lilac bushes in the backyard were full of little birds eating what seeds they could find, despite the weather. This puffed-up goldfinch caught my eye with its bright
streak of yellow on such a dreary day. —Christy Brucks of Mandan, North Dakota

photo credit: Gary Detonnancourt (B&B reader)

39. Cedar Waxwing

It was incredibly exciting to capture this cedar waxwing tossing a crabapple into the air at just the right moment. The bird’s behavior also was interesting to observe. The waxwing didn’t eat every crabapple—it punctured each one with its pointy tongue to taste the fruit first. Then it discarded some crabapples and ate the others. Gary Detonnancourt of Harrisville, Rhode Island

photo credit: Paul Danaher (B&B reader)

40. Great Gray Owl

On a cold, gloomy winter day, I was driving through a particularly boggy area in Minnesota, hoping I would see something to photograph. Before I knew it, I came across this majestic great gray owl! It stared me down as I snapped this photo. —Paul Danaher of Chicago Heights, Illinois

photo credit: Janine Martin (B&B reader)

41. Northern Flicker

This male northern flicker visited my suet feeder last year. After he was done feeding, he landed on a stump in my yard and relaxed for a few seconds. I love how his feathers are all fluffed up! I’ve always been fond of this species, from the call they make to the striking feather pattern on their heads. —Janine Martin of North Branch, Michigan

photo credit: Nancy Tully (B&B reader)

42. Downy Woodpecker

During a snowstorma downy woodpecker waited on top of a dried sunflower head for its turn at the feeder. The bird finally got its turn and ate very well. —Nancy Tully of East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania

Courtesy Matthew Bolyard

43. Black-Capped Chickadee

On a cold winter’s day, my family and I went to the Brecksville Nature Center in Brecksville, Ohio, for its annual Hand Feed a Chickadee event. As bird lovers, we thought it would be great to have birds land on our hands. We were right! —Matthew Bolyard of Euclid, Ohio

photo credit: Susan George (B&B reader)

44. Blue Jays

I have a large grapevine wreath mounted over a platform feeder on my deck, and on this particular day, the blue jays seemed to be fighting a little more than usual over the seed. One would be eating and another would fly in and scare it off. The blue jay on the left hopped out of the way a few times, but finally hunkered down, apparently determined not to be bullied off the feeder. —Susan George of Avoca, Michigan

photo credit: Jean McCreedy (B&B reader)

45. Yellow-Shafted Flicker

This gorgeous yellow-shafted flicker arrived on the coldest day of the year. Snow fell  lightly as he turned his head from side to side, checking the yard. I was ready with my camera and got several shots as he fluffed up his feathers to keep himself warm.Jean McCreedy of Edmonton, Alberta

photo credit: Diane Schulman (B&B reader)

46. Black-Capped Chickadees

A blizzard and frigid temperatures hit our area. The weather and snow were depressing—that is, until the birds came by to enjoy some lunch. I had a delightful time watching and photographing these black-capped chickadees. –Diane Schulman of Dix Hills, New York

photo credit: Ray Parisi Jr (B&B reader)

47. Mourning Dove

Whenever it threatens to or begins to snow, I make sure all the bird feeders are stocked, so my backyard becomes a popular hangout for winter birds. This mourning dove found a comfortable sweet bay magnolia tree branch to sit out the snowstorm. Ray Parisi Jr. of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania

photo credit: Ed Boos (B&B reader)

48. Snowy Owl

Two winters ago, a snowy owl showed up in Florida for only the third time in recorded birding history. My wife and I traveled to Little Talbot State Park, near Jacksonville, to photograph this phenomenon. On a chilly, windy morning, with the help of the park rangers, we found the female snowy owl in the sand dunes along the beach. What a thrill it was to see this beautiful bird so far from her Arctic home. —Ed Boos of St. Petersburg, Florida

photo credit: Russ Erhard (B&B reader)

49. White-Breasted Nuthatch

I spied this white-breasted nuthatch just hanging around on our peanut butter pinecone at Christmastime. It was a treat for the nuthatch, and a treat for me, too. —Russ Erhard of Van Buren, Arkansas

photo credit: Christa Garavaglia (B&B reader)

50. Eastern Bluebird

My parents have a lot of bluebirds where they live in Ozark, Missouri, and while I see many beautiful birds here in the St. Louis area, I never see bluebirds. As a nice gesture and a joke, my parents gave me a bluebird house when they visited. Lo and behold, two weeks later, look who comes a-visiting after a snowfall! I heard from a little birdie that my parents sent him. Christa Garavaglia of St. Louis, Missouri

photo credit: Gene Narum (B&B reader)

51. Bohemian Waxwing

We used to wonder why we never had to rake up fallen crabapples in the spring. We found our answer one day when I came home for lunch and my wife pointed out the flock of Bohemian waxwings around our crabapple tree. I got some unforgettable photos of the birds taking small fruits off the tree. This was the only time we’ve caught the waxwings during their migration through our area. Gene Narum of Walhalla, North Dakota