How to Help Birds in Cold Winter Weather

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Don't worry about your backyard birds during frigid winter weather. Learn how to help them by providing food, water and shelter.

Whether it’s hot or cold, raining or snowing, birds have to adapt and survive the weather conditions. Here are a few things you can do to help birds on cold winter days.

How to Help Bird Species During Extremely Cold WeatherRob Ripma
Dark-eyed junco

Put Food Out Early for Winter Birds

On cold winter days, birds need to eat immediately in the morning as they have used energy reserves to stay warm overnight. It’s helpful to provide easy access to food in the morning. Check out 10 top tips for feeding birds in winter.

Provide Fresh Water

Once lakes and rivers freeze over, water can be difficult to come by. A heated birdbath just might be the most important item you can put out in extremely cold weather. Psst—learn about winter bird myths and facts.

Offer Shelter from Wind

Give birds a way to escape the cold wind in winter. You can do anything from building a simple stick pile in the corner of your yard to putting up roosting boxes for birds to use. Long term, you should plant native trees and shrubs with berries. Here’s how to create winter shelter for birds.

pine siskin in snowCourtesy Betsy Brooker
Pine siskin in the snow

Serve High Energy Foods

The more energy birds can gather quickly, the more likely they are to thrive in winter. Peanuts, sunflower chips, and suet are all great options. Not only are they high energy foods, they are also quick and easy for the birds to eat allowing them to feed more efficiently on cold days. Check out the best suet feeders for winter birds.

Refill Feeders Late in the Day

Keep feeders filled with birdseed to help birds in winter. Giving your birds access to full feeders just before sunset will provide them with an extra energy boost. Check out the 10 types of bird feeders you need in your backyard.

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Rob Ripma
Rob Ripma, a lifelong Indiana resident, has traveled and birded extensively throughout the Americas.