Winter can be a tough time for birds. But you can lend a hand to your feathered friends. Attracting native winter birds to your yard is more successful if they have a place where they feel safe and comfortable, even in bad weather. So when you offer shelter options such as roosts or nest boxes, you help birds conserve valuable energy, especially during frosty winter nights and storms. Find out how you can help these little friends in winter, and which native winter birds are most commonly known, in this post!
Table of contents
Which are native winter birds
Males are black, with bright orange-yellow bill and yellow eye ring. Females are brown, often with spots and streaks on the breast and brown bill. The blackbird is one of the most common birds and one of the most conspicuous. Their soft song is also very popular.
The house sparrow is found wherever there are houses (or other buildings), and only in a few places where there are none. Along with two other species, the starling and the rock pigeon, they are native winter birds most commonly represented.
Its chirping, wheezing song and flashes of yellow and green in flight make this finch a truly colorful character. The Greenfinch nests in a conifer tree in the garden or feeds on black sunflower seeds. It is a regular garden visitor, finding food in rural and urban gardens.
Male yellowhammers are distinctive with their bright yellow head and underparts, brown back streaked with black, and maroon rump. In flight, they display white outer tail feathers. They are often seen perched singing on a hedge or bush.
The Hawfinch is the largest finch and has a massive, powerful bill. Hawfinches are usually shy and hard to see, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to spot them as their traditional breeding grounds have declined in recent years.
Other native winter birds include: Brambling, Chaffinch, Siskin, Tree Sparrow, Bullfinch (Bullfinch), Redstart, Dunnock, Blackcap, Robin, Wagtail, Starling, Goldfinch, Wren.
What native birds need in winter
In many ways, birds are just like us! They need food, water, shelter, and a reliable internet connection. (We’re just checking to make sure you’re actually reading this!) Making sure your little friends have everything they need takes year-round effort.
Food is very important in the cold months
During the summer months, the birds’ main diet consists of insects and spiders. As the growing season progresses, fruits and berries are added. In winter, the selection is even smaller. To feed winter birds, you need to provide foraging opportunities and offer high-quality forage and suet where appropriate. You want to provide the birds with as much food(good fats) as possible with as little effort as possible. Each species has its own preferences, both in the type of food and where it is fed. Some will take seeds from a feeder, others, like pigeons, like to forage on the ground. Here are some suggestions for suitable feed:
- Sunflower seeds with black oil (these have the best meat to shell ratio).
- Shelled peanuts
- Suet (beef fat or natural peanut butter)
- High quality seed mix
- Nyjer or thistle seeds
- Safflower seeds
- Remains of fruits and berries on trees and bushes
- Raisins or currants or other fruits (without preservatives) – soak them in water to soften them.
The best tips for feeding birds
- Bird feeders should be placed in places protected from the wind during the winter. Placing feeders closer to the house will allow you to better observe the birds. Feeders should be placed near protective cover such as hedges or brush to protect the birds from predators. Place feeders a few feet from natural cover where birds can hide if needed, but not so close that predators can ambush.
- Birds aren’t the only ones struggling with harsh winter conditions. Offer food to other animals in a different location, such as corn on the cob for squirrels, so they are less tempted to raid feeders.
- To avoid collisions with windows, place feeders no more than three feet from a wall or window and use window stickers or other techniques to prevent birds from touching the glass.
- Feeders are most useful in winter if they have a wide cover over the openings, perches, and dispensing trays to prevent spillage of seeds during snowfalls or storms.
- When cleaning, discard soggy seeds and allow the feeder to dry before refilling. Also wipe down perches, poles and other parts of the feeder.
- To store seed properly, keep it in a cool, dry place that is protected from bugs and rodents.
Leave fruits and berries hanging from trees, hedges, and shrubs to provide a natural food source for the winter.
Keep fresh water on hand at all times
Birds need fresh water year-round, and during the winter months when everything is frozen, it can be difficult to find fresh water. Keep fresh water on hand: prevent freezing with an outdoor water remover. You can also use bird feeders to provide fresh water if you install an electric or solar water heater and change the water regularly. It is important to keep the water shallow (3 inches or less) to avoid drowning accidents. Some of these products have deep bowls that prove dangerous to birds. They know how to get to the water in a pond, but a large bowl is a whole different challenge.
Domestic winter birds: choice of feeders.
Different birds use different types of feeders and eat different types of birdseed. To attract a wide variety of winter birds, place several feeders of different heights and designs. Let the large species have their tall, standing feeders, and give the smaller birds feeders that are only suitable for their size and weight. The squirrels will decide what they prefer, whether you like it or not. Wash your feeders every week or two and disinfect them with a bleach solution before using them again. This will help prevent the spread of disease and prevent mold from forming. Also, clear away snow so the birds have enough room to stand and feed.
Create shelter for the little friends
Provide trees and shrubs for natural shelter. Make sure birdhouses are secure. The best shelter, of course, are trees and shrubs, where the birds can rest and protect themselves from cold weather.