ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Birdfeeders in Winter - How To

Updated on March 20, 2015

How To Feed Birds - Spotlight on Winter Feeding

Winter is a great time to observe birds in your own backyard or from a window when the weather is really cold. The trees have lost their leaves and there is little left to hide the birds from sight.

Winter is also a time that birds need some extra special provisions to make their wintering over easier. We can help with providing some winter shelter, food, and water.

Many birds have behaviors that help them manage through the cold winter like growing winter feathers, fluffing up to trap body heat, shivering, and changing their diet to fit the foods available.

This doesn't mean we can't do a few things to help and encourage birds to winter in our yards.

Remember: In winter, birds still need the basics: food, water and shelter.

Birds Still Come to Eat in the Snow!

Birds Still Come to Eat in the Snow!
Birds Still Come to Eat in the Snow!
Titmouse in the snow
Titmouse in the snow

Remember the Basics!

Birds need food, water, and shelter at all times of the year to survive but in the winter it is even more vital to offer these basic needs.

Keep a variety of feeders to help offer give a variety of eating opportunities. Some birds prefer to eat from hopper type feeders, some from platforms, and still others like to cling onto the feeder to eat. All feeders should be filled regularly, more often when the temperatures are colder. Some books suggest filling feeders two times a day to make sure there is food available before dark.

Birdbaths with water seems unnecessary during the winter but it is a vital part of the birds needs during the cold months.

Shelter in the form of landscaping or bird houses is also necessary for warmth as well as protection.

Keep these factors in mind as you plan your strategy for helping birds survive the winter.

Robin in the tree
Robin in the tree

What do birds eat in the winter?

Birds need lots of calories in the winter, increasing the need as the weather turns colder. Some birds change from a diet of insects to other sources available in the winter. The trouble is that many times even seeds and berries are scarce when the weather is stormy or there is a deep snow.

Birds will look to feeders for a reliable source of calories during the winter months. In fact, they actually begin to look for backyard feeders in late summer and early fall so you want to start regularly filling your feeders at that time. This also places a responsibility on you to keep those feeders filled through the winter once you have regular visitors that come to feed.

For tips on how to clean your feeders, here is a link to some bird feeder cleaning tips.

Stellar's Jay
Stellar's Jay

What Kinds of Food Should You Put In Your Feeder?

During the winter cold months, it is especially important to offer lots of calories for birds to keep up their metabolism.

High fat foods appropriate at this time of year are black oil sunflower seeds, suet, cracked corn, and a variety of nuts. We also add peanuts bits and bird seed mixes with fruits and nuts.

We keep a variety of foods on hand so when the weather turns bad we do not run out of seeds and nuts. We store our bird seeds and nuts in sturdy containers in the garage. This is necessary to keep the rodents from getting into our stash.

Winter Bird Feeder

Winter Bird Feeder
Winter Bird Feeder

Bird Feeding Station - We love our feeding station!

This is just the pole with the hooks which hold three birdfeeders, a platform for seeds, and a small birdbath,

Our Feeding Station

Bird feeding station
Bird feeding station

We put our bird feeding station near a bush for protection and then we planted some rosemary around the base to keep the cats and squirrels away. This has been a popular bird feeder spot for some time now and I highly recommend this product if you have room to add it to your yard. You could place it near a window and then you will have a spot year-round to view birds and enjoy their behavior and beauty.

My Favorite Little Binoculars

Eagle Optics Eagle Optics 8x21 Energy Binoculars - Blue, Compact Binoculars
Eagle Optics Eagle Optics 8x21 Energy Binoculars - Blue, Compact Binoculars
These are the best little binoculars to carry in your pocket or for your younger children to use. They are small and lightweight so they can hold them up easily for longer periods of time. I actually carry these with me on my hikes. You can read a little more about them on my blog My Favorite Little Binoculars.

Winter Weeds and Flowers for Birds - Leave those dried flower heads with seeds!

Dried Flower Heads in Garden for Birds
Dried Flower Heads in Garden for Birds

Have you ever considered leaving some of your seed-bearing plants in the garden over the winter? Many of us like a neat and tidy yard so we pull out the last of the dried brown plants after the last bloom. Although they may be done blooming, there are seeds that many birds can glean during the long cold winter.

Seed-eating birds like goldfinches and juncos will find your dried weeds and flowers a delicious meal, perching on the flower heads to pluck out some seeds.

Try leaving your coneflowers, asters, thistles, and wildflowers until spring and the birds and insects will thank you.

Highly Recommended Resource - Learn Your Bird Songs

The Backyard Birdsong Guide: Western North America
The Backyard Birdsong Guide: Western North America
Learn the bird songs for your backyard birds easily with this wonderful interactive book. Press the button and hear the bird's song, along with the detailed illustrations you will not regret acquiring this resource for your family.

Birds in Winter

Do you have birdfeeders you fill in the winter?

See results

Winter Bird House Shelters

Some birds will roost together for warmth and roosting boxes will attract these birds to your yard.

Coveside Small Winter Roost. Safe Bird House for Protection from Predators and Cold Weather. Made in the USA.
Coveside Small Winter Roost. Safe Bird House for Protection from Predators and Cold Weather. Made in the USA.
This simple to install roosting box is a great way to encourage birds to shelter in your yard. Be sure to clean the box out at the end of the season in preparation for next year's birds.

Birdbath and Birdfeeding Station

Birdbath and Birdfeeding Station
Birdbath and Birdfeeding Station

Bird Bath Choices - Vital Part of a Bird's Survival is Enough Fresh Water

Bird baths a important source of water in the winter months for the birds in your yard. You need to make sure to keep them filled and de-iced in order for the birds to benefit from them.

You can place the bird baths near feeders or near a window for filling convenience. We have a friend that has placed the bird bath so they can open a window and pour warm water into it without braving the cold winter snow.

Water not only helps the birds to keep hydrated but it helps them to preen their feathers.

Allied Precision Industries (650) Heated Bird Bath with Mounting Bracket, Light Stone Color, 20" Diameter
Allied Precision Industries (650) Heated Bird Bath with Mounting Bracket, Light Stone Color, 20" Diameter
It is vital that the water not be frozen in the cold winter months. This bird bath has a heater to keep the water deiced.
Farm Innovators Model B-9 Economical Birdbath De-Icer, 44-Watt
Farm Innovators Model B-9 Economical Birdbath De-Icer, 44-Watt
If you already have a bird bath, you can purchase this separate unit to keep the ice from forming.

Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker

Feel Free to Leave a Comment or Question

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image


      10 years ago

      I love to feed the birds in the winter. They are so much fun to watch.

    • bbsoulful2 profile image


      10 years ago

      Your pages are always so nicely put together and informative! We pick them apart later for nature study. Thank you!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Very interesting and informative! Thanks

    • encouragingwords profile image


      10 years ago

      Our feathered friends bring such joy. Thank you for this excellent lens; rolled to Bird Quotes and Sentiments That Make Your Heart Sing

    • PNWtravels profile image

      Vicki Green 

      10 years ago from Wandering the Pacific Northwest USA

      I've enjoyed birdwatching and feeding the birds in the winter for many years, and learned some great tips from your lens. I especially appreciated the idea about planting rosemary around the base of the feeder to keep cats and squirrels away - will try that one. Great photos, too!

    • Blonde Blythe profile image

      Blonde Blythe 

      10 years ago from U.S.A.

      Wonderful lens! Lots of great information and photos!

    • delia-delia profile image


      10 years ago

      Hello from a Squidoo greeter! nicely done lens and very informative...I love feeding birds.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)