Tips for Keeping Backyard Birds Flocking to Your Feeders in Winter

The Weather Outside Might Be Frightful, But Seeing Birds in the Snow is Delightful

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The winter weather outside most parts of the U.S. is frightful this weekend with expected heavy snowfall, but don’t worry about the safety of your backyard bird friends. Nature gave them everything they needed to endure the brutal weather.

Winter birds survive the whipping winds and heavy snow during brutally cold winters with nothing more than their magical feathers.

A cute little Tufted Titmouse relishing a delicious nut in the snow

A bird’s feathers are the equivalent of Harry Potter’s wand. Every feather wields magic. Birds flatten or fluff up their feathers to create more airspace between them to regulate temperature. So, the hotter a bird gets, its feathers become flatter with no airspace.

The colder a bird is, the fluffier they become by puffing up and trapping air that adds insulation between their feathers. So don’t worry about your backyard bird friends; they’ll be just fine.

Here are a few tips to provide a little helping hand to keep your backyard birds flocking to your feeders during the wintery weather.

1. Provide Quality Food

Providing the best winter bird food doesn’t mean it must be gourmet. Select seeds, suet, nuts, peanut butter, and scraps high in fat and calories to give birds plenty of energy to generate more body heat.

We give our suet-loving birds woodpecker cakes and peanut suet nuggets. Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers, White-breasted Nuthatches, Northern Flickers, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, and Carolina Wrens enjoy eating them and visit the feeders throughout the day.

Our staple bird food for our backyard birds is sunflower chips. The cardinals and Tufted Titmouse love this seed, and the ground-dwelling birds like Dark-eyed Juncos, Mourning Doves and White-throated Sparrows enjoy eating the spilled seeds below.

We’ve tried various birdseed brands and found all birdseed is not the same. We lost some of our birds during the summer after switching brands, and once we returned our previous brand, the birds returned. So chose your bird seed wisely.

2. Keep Bird Feeders Full

After long, cold nights, the birds need ready access to food in the early morning to replenish their energy reserves.

The birds are up at the crack of dawn looking for sustenance long before we’ve climbed out of our warm beds, so this requires your attention and dedication. That means keeping your bird feeders stocked with nutritious seeds no matter the weather outside so the birds know where to go for a high-energy meal.

We replenish food multiple times a day before, during, and after snowstorms to ensure our feathered friends are well-fed. Our cardinals look for food at dusk, and if the feeders are picked clean, they will let us know. So we keep a ladder nearby to quickly refill the sunflower chips for them. (Use caution when climbing a ladder with wet boots or shoes.)

3. Offer a Water Source

Consider offering birds a heated birdbath they can drink from in freezing temperatures, and your backyard birds have a much better chance at survival. Birds can melt snow to drink if necessary, but then the bird uses the precious energy it needs to maintain its body heat.

4. Provide Shelter

Plant evergreen shrubs and coniferous trees to provide suitable shelter throughout the winter, and leave fall brush piles to give birds a safe, sheltered place to roost.

We have several Carolina Wrens using our brush piles for shelter, and we keep bundles of sticks and wood around the yard as wren “houses” they retreat to throughout the day.

If you have trailers, elevated planter boxes, tables, chairs, or BBQ grills and don’t have room for them in a shed or barn, tarp them, and the birds will use the dry space under them for shelter. Our Carolina Wrens stay under our planter boxes and trailer during heavy snowfall.

A White-throated Sparrow eagerly waiting below the bird feeders, hoping to catch a tasty morsel of seed

Be sure to throw seeds under them so they have something to eat so they don’t have to venture out in the bright white snow in search of food when they’re more vulnerable to attack from a predator.

Toss some seeds under pine trees or bushes where they might hide out. Also, consider adding a roost box to your yard.

So, as the harsh winter weather sets in, there’s no need to worry about your backyard birds.

Nature’s adaptions help birds survive severe winter weather, and a little helping hand of good food, shelter, and other necessities keeps winter birds flocking to your backyard.

Happy Winter Birdwatching!

If you enjoy this story, please subscribe to our site and follow our YouTube channel to enjoy our bird videos. And please check out our online shop. It’s filled with handmade gifts inspired by birds and nature. We donate to bird and wildlife organizations for every item sold.


Leave a Reply
    • Called peanut suet nuggets. Kind of look like chick peas. Google it for picture. Come in bright red bag. Walmart. Chewy etc. My birds and squirrels love them. 😊

  1. Nice article. A fellow shopper and I were looking over bird feed and were lamenting the way price has moved up with everything else. Also some of the brands marketing gourmet or top of the line feeds have been putting lot of filler and twig pieces in there products. Thanks for the tips.

  2. Love the article, we do just about the same believe it or not but we feed our birds like we own them, the beauty and antics they give us is so worth it. Was out today and the tit mouses couldn’t wait for a new refill.

  3. A bird food store told me to go gather Mt neighbours Christmas trees and put them around my feeder. I do not have trees if my own so I have been doing this for about 12 years. He said even if there isn’t enough snow t I stand it up the birds well find shelter it on laying down.
    This man knew his stuff and its true there could be around 10 to 15 birds hiding out eating and sheltering.
    I stand 3 trees around the pole and tie them to keep them up, then I cut a bunch of branches off the bottoms and weave a roof over the feeders.
    I only do Nyger seed year round for my chickadees, gold finch and wood packers.
    They are my passion and the morning doves clean up under the feeders.. It keeps me busy and I do but the best seed because I have learned they don’t life second grade seed..
    I don’t smoke or go to theater or drink
    Lol my budget is bird seed! I am north of Toronto, Ontario Canada

  4. I stopped feed birds when I noticed they were part of a smorgasbord for hawks and coyotes. If you feed them do it inconspicuously so the birds aren’t feeding at the same place.

  5. Thank You! I have been worried about our backyard friend’s!
    I have noticed that they fluff their feathers and more!

  6. Can I make peanut butter and mix it with oatmeal for the birds to eat for added protein? I live in North East Ohio.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.



East Coast Vs. West Coast Owls: Survival of the Fittest


Not Seeing Birds This Winter? Here Are 10 Hotspots to Look