How to Attract Birds in the Winter

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Winter is a great time to go birding in your own backyard. Learn how to attract birds in the winter with this handy guide.

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Northern cardinal - attracting birds in the winter.

There is nothing more amazing and refreshing than waking up in the morning to the sounds of birds chirping in your yard. Arkansas is home to many bird species that stay all winter long and the bare branches on the trees mean that birding is also at it’s best.

The good thing is that you can always attract birds to your back yard by using some simple tips and tricks like the five I have listed below.

Winter is a great time to go birding in your own backyard. Learn how to attract birds in the winter with this handy guide.

Understand the bird species in your area.

Knowing which species are most common in your area during each season will help you to make your yard more attractive. Choosing the right type of bird feeders and seeds to offer can make a dramatic difference in the number of birds and species you attract. 

Apps like Audubon Bird Guide will allow you to select your location and the month. It will then populate a list of the most likely species in your area. Compare this with the birds you observe so you can research what types of food to offer.

Give the birds shelter.

Birds can get cold during the winter season and if you want to attract them to your yard, you can create some nesting boxes for them. These serve as shelter for the birds and they make the birds feel both secure and well protected from the harsh weather elements. 

Make sure that the nesting boxes are raised above the ground where predators cannot reach them. Some research shows that roosting birds prefer the boxes to be at least 10 feet off the ground. Place roofing over them to prevent water or snow from dripping and causing discomfort to the birds inside.

backyard bird in the winter

Provide food and water. 

Food is the main item you can use to attract birds to your backyard and you will want to select food that is ideal for the birds that visit your area. Some items you may consider include:

  1. Homemade bird treats – Learn how to make homemade bird treats in this post.
  2. Seed Mixes – Always look for a local seed mix that includes native, non-invasive seeds.
  3. Suet
  4. Fruit
  5. Mealworms
  6. Cracked corn
  7. Peanuts (unsalted)
  8. Uncooked Oatmeal

Providing water for birds is also important, especially when the temperatures dip below freezing.  Here are some tips for providing water:

  1. Avoid concrete birdbaths that can crack if they freeze.
  2. Following a light freeze, break up the surface ice in your water source.
  3. Consider placing a heated birdbath or pet dish where birds can access it.

If you can provide food and water for them on a consistent basis, birds will come back to your yard and eventually make it their home.

Add foliage and make your yard as natural as possible.

Birds love the forest and you can attract them to your yard by making it as natural as possible.

Select plants and bushes that will continue to provide cover throughout the winter months. Foliage creates a conducive environment for the growth of worms and other insects that serve as food for the birds as well. 

You can also use birds as an excuse to get out of raking leaves in the fall. Let the leaves and grass remain in the yard where they will decompose and create an avenue for worms and other little insects to thrive which will create a natural food source that birds love.

mockingbird in the backyard

Be clean.

Besides providing regular access to food and water, you need to make sure that the feeding and watering troughs are clean at all times. Birds love to be clean and they will stay away from environments that are not hygienic. Remove old seed, especially if moisture has leaked into your feeders following rain or snow. Regularly remove leaves and other debris from water sources. 
It is not difficult to attract birds to your yard in the winter and watching them will give you many hours of enjoyment. You may even decide to track all of the birds that you observe in your very own Bird Watching Journal!

Check out some of our favorite books about backyard birds.

Birds in Winter (Bullfrog Books: What Happens in Winter?) – Jenny Fretland VanVoorst

A Backyard Birding Adventure: What’s in Your Yard? – Kermit Cummings

Birdwatching For Kids –  George H. Harrison

Audubon Birding Adventures for Kids: Activities and Ideas for Watching, Feeding, and Housing Our Feathered Friends – Elissa Wolfson

Backyard Birding for Kids –  Fran Lee

Read Next

Birdwatching Tips for Beginners (FREE Printable Birdwatching Journal)

How to Create a Winter Bird Tree

15 Fascinating Children’s Books About Birds

How to Recycle Your Christmas Tree into a Fish Habitat

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Winter is a great time to go birding in your own backyard. Learn how to attract birds in the winter with this handy guide.

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