Surviving the Snow: How to Make Your Backyard a Haven for Birds in Winter

Surviving the Snow: How to Make Your Backyard a Haven for Birds in Winter


As the winter season approaches, our feathered friends face significant challenges. The drop in temperature and scarcity of natural food sources make survival increasingly difficult for birds.

This period calls for a helping hand, and our backyards can be transformed into safe havens that offer refuge and sustenance. Providing support to birds during winter is not just an act of kindness but also a step towards preserving the delicate balance of our local ecosystems.

By setting up bird feeders, ensuring a steady supply of water, and creating warm shelters, we can make a substantial difference in the lives of these birds. Such efforts not only aid in their survival but also bring the joy and beauty of birdwatching to our homes, even in the coldest months.

Simple measures can have a profound impact, making our outdoor spaces vibrant and lively, and offering birds a fighting chance against the harsh winter conditions. 

Understanding the Needs of Winter Birds

Creating a bird-friendly buffet in your backyard this winter involves a little creativity and understanding of what our winged visitors prefer. Here’s how to get it right:


Choosing the Best Feeders:

  • Hopper feeders are like little bird barns, protecting seeds from snow and gracing a variety of birds.
  • Window feeders offer a close-up view of birds dining and are ideal for apartments or small
  • For ground-feeding birds like doves and sparrows, scatter some seeds directly on the ground or on a ground feeder.

DIY Bird Feeder Projects:

  • Transform an old teapot or coffee pot into a charming feeder by filling it with seeds and hanging it from a tree.
  • Craft a feeder from orange peels, hollowed out and filled with seeds, adding a natural and aromatic touch.
  • Upcycle a mesh produce bag (like those for onions) as an easy-to-make feeder for suet or small seed balls.

Ensuring a Balanced Diet:

  • Offer a mix of seeds such as black oil sunflower, safflower, and cracked corn to cater to different tastes.
  • Incorporate fruits like apple slices or raisins for a sweet treat that appeals to fruit-loving
  • Remember to add a suet feeder for birds that need more fat to keep warm, like starlings and woodpeckers.

 Providing Nutritious Food Sources

Feeding birds in winter not only helps them survive but also allows for a wonderful wildlife watching experience. Selecting the right feeders and food can make a significant difference. Here’s how you can provide nutritious food sources effectively:

Types of Bird Feeders and Best Practices 

  1. Tube Feeders: Ideal for small seeds like nyjer or sunflower They are great for smaller birds like finches and chickadees.
  2. Hopper Feeders: Suitable for a wide variety of birds. They can hold more food and need refilling less often.
  3. Suet Feeders: Specifically designed for suet cakes. They often attract woodpeckers, nuthatches, and starlings.
  4. Ground Feeders: For birds that prefer to eat on the ground, like doves and

Best Practices:

  • Place feeders near natural shelter but in a clear, open space to reduce the risk of predator
  • Ensure feeders are sturdy and can withstand winter
  • Clean feeders regularly to prevent the spread of

Winter-Friendly Bird Foods 

  1. Suet: High in fat, it provides essential It’s especially popular with woodpeckers and nuthatches.
  2. Black Oil Sunflower Seeds: High in calories, these seeds are a favorite for a wide range of
  3. Peanuts: Unsalted and shelled peanuts are a nutritious choice for many bird
  4. Mixed Seeds: A mix can attract a variety of birds but avoid those with too many fillers like milk and wheat.

Keeping the Feeding Area Clean and Safe

Regular Cleaning: Clean feeders and the area around them to prevent mold and the spread of

Predator Safety:

  1. Place feeders out of reach of cats and other
  2. Consider using baffles to prevent squirrels from accessing the
  3. Avoid Crowding: Multiple feeders spread out can reduce crowding and the risk of disease transmission among birds.

Ensuring a Supply of Water

Water is just as crucial as food for birds in winter, but providing a liquid source can be challenging when temperatures drop.

Here’s how to ensure your feathered friends have access to unfrozen water: 

Bird Baths with Heaters:

  • Invest in a heated bird:  These are designed to keep water just above freezing, ensuring a constant supply of liquid water.
  • Alternatively, you can add a heater to your existing bird bath. Look for models that are safe for birds and efficient in energy use.

Alternative Solutions:

  • Place a small, waterproof heating pad under the bird Make sure it’s specifically designed for outdoor use and safe around wildlife.
  • For a DIY approach, float a light ball, like a ping-pong ball, in the water. The movement from the wind will help prevent a complete freeze.
  • Change the water regularly, at least twice a day, to prevent it from freezing This is a simple but effective method if temperatures are not too extreme.

Remember, placing the water source near your feeders can encourage birds to visit more often, making your backyard an even more attractive haven in the winter months. Ensuring a steady supply of fresh, unfrozen water is vital for the birds’ survival and overall health during the cold season. 

Creating Safe and Cozy Shelters

Providing a safe and cozy shelter is essential for birds during winter. Here are ways to create protective havens for them in your backyard: 

Winter-Ready Birdhouses:

  • Choose or build birdhouses with thick walls and insulated design to keep the cold Consider materials like wood over metal to avoid extreme temperature fluctuations.
  • Ensure the entrance hole is just big enough for the bird species you want to attract, which also helps keep out predators and cold drafts.
  • Position the birdhouses facing away from prevailing winds and with a slight tilt forward to prevent rain and snow from getting in.

Using Natural Vegetation for Shelter:

  • Keep some garden areas wild with dense shrubs, evergreens, and brush piles, offering natural protection and warmth for birds.
  • Plant native trees and shrubs that retain their foliage in winter, like holly or conifers, providing excellent natural shelters.

Strategies for Predator Safety:

  • Place birdhouses and feeders at least five feet off the ground and away from surfaces that predators can climb.
  • Install predator guards, like baffle cones or collars, on poles and trees where feeders and houses are mounted.
  • Keep pet cats indoors, as they are one of the biggest threats to backyard birds.

By integrating these shelter and protection strategies into your backyard, you create a safer environment for birds to roost and feed, especially during the harsh winter months. This approach not only supports their survival but also encourages them to return year after year. 


To conclude, transforming your backyard into a winter sanctuary for birds is a rewarding endeavor that greatly aids their survival. Essential steps include supplying high-energy foods through different types of feeders, maintaining an unfrozen water source, and creating safe shelters with birdhouses or natural cover.

Join in and help our feathered friends! We'd love for you to share your stories and experiences with the community. Your efforts and tales can really help inspire others and make a big difference in caring for and enjoying wildlife.

Back to blog