How to Attract Birds in Winter and Spot More Species

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2. Barred Owl

This barred owl came to our yard for a few days last winter and hunted some of the red squirrels. I was able to get kind of close to it as it perched in this tree. Unfortunately, two days after I captured this shot, I found the bird next to a snowbank. I feel this photo is something of a memorial to it. —Laurie Painter of Silver Cliff, Wisconsin

Attract with: nest boxes in mature, dense trees


6. Install a bird house

The shelter is a key factor in making birds feel safe and more likely to make your yard their home. Install a birdhouse to entice birds to stay, by providing safe and reliable shelter for them. Of course, not all birds like birdhouses, but those that do have different needs and preferences depending on the species. 

More common occupants of birdhouses include sparrows, chickadees, and bluebirds, but many species will use a birdhouse, so choose the size and type depending on the type of birds you want to attract. In general small birds like small houses and large birds will use large houses. 

If you want to attract chickadees, wrens, or other small birds, an 8-inch tall house, with a 4 by 6 or 5 by the 5-inch base is generally acceptable while the larger the bird, the larger the house it will need, with owls needing houses as large as 24 inches tall with a 10 by 10-inch base (3). In addition to the size of the house, an important aspect of selecting the right house includes the size of the entrance hole. 

Follow the adage above regarding size, and check breed-specific requirements for the specific birds you are trying to attract. And lastly, installing location is important when it comes to birdhouses. Install your birdhouse in a safe location, high enough off the ground to encourage birds to find safety in their house.

Add Roosting Boxes

Bird boxes are often associated with the nesting season, but nuthatches, chickadees, wrens and others will utilize them as roosting sites in the winter. Roosting boxes provide sheltered spots that are warmer than the bone-chilling outside air. Natural shelters, such as cavities in dead or living trees and dense thickets of conifers, can give a similar refuge to smaller birds such as tiny northern saw-whet owls.

3. Social Belonging

Most birds are social creatures and enjoy each other’s company. Almost all species find safety in numbers, even if it’s just during specific times of the year.

We have discussed numerous ways to transform your backyard into a place that consistently attracts birds. Following all of the tips and advice above is the best way to provide a habitat that allows birds to be social together.

New Nesting Sites

It is a real treat for backyard birders to observe mating and nesting habits of their favorite backyard species. Offering suitable nesting areas will increase the chances that new birds will find your yard attractive.

  • Birdhouses: Add a new birdhouse designed for a specific species to your yard. Check the size of the entrance hole and the other dimensions of the house to be sure it is suitable for the birds you wish to attract.
  • Birdhouse safety: If you do have birdhouses up but they go unused year after year, they may not be appealing to your backyard birds. Be sure they are safe birdhouses that are resistant to predators and positioned to be secure from the worst weather.
  • Nesting material: Offer nesting material for your birds to take when constructing their nests. Some birds will prefer weed fluff from dead flowers, while others will take advantage of grass clippings that are left on the lawn. You can purchase balls or squares of cotton fluff and lint that hummingbirds and goldfinches prefer, or you can save hair, pet fur and small pieces of string to offer in a suet cage nester.

New Water

Not all birds will visit feeders, but they all need water. While a basic birdbath is an easy way to attract birds with water, upgrading your water features or adding new ones will bring new bird species flocking to your yard.

  • Moving water: Instead of just a static birdbath, add a dripper, mister or bubbler to create motion. Birds will see and hear the water from great distances, and many curious species will come to investigate. If you have the space and budget, consider a fountain birdbath or even larger water feature such as a waterfall or pond.
  • Multiple water sources: A single birdbath can be very crowded, particularly if it is the only water source for a large area. Add additional bird baths to attract more birds, or add different water features such as a mister in a shady grove or a ground bubbler near shrubbery to attract a wider range of birds.
  • Winter water: Birds can get their water from snow and ice in the winter, but a liquid water source will attract dozens of birds in the cold. Add a simple heater attachment to your existing birdbath or upgrade to a heated birdbath to attract winter birds with a warm drink.

Provide water features

Have a fountain or stream running through your landscape. "Water features are another great way to attract birds to the yard," says Anne Marie Johnson, Project Feederwatch assistant at the Cornell Lab for Ornithology. "Birds love moving water because movement tends to purify water—think about the quality of water in a fast-moving stream versus a [stagnant] pond." Water features require a little more work than some of the other methods, but they can be very enticing to birds. What if you can't afford to put in an elaborate moving water feature? Then bird baths are a decent option. "All birds need to bathe, and a stand-alone pedal bird bath will appeal to all types of birds," says Brumfield. "You may even see migrating birds, hawks, and owls stopping on your property to take a bath."

How To Attract Birds Fast With Food

3. Set Out A Backyard Bird Buffet From “Bird Soup” To Nuts!

The 3rd top tip for attracting birds fast is to bestow your feathered friends with a buffet from “bird soup” to nuts!

Not all the wild birds we want to enjoy up close like to eat the same things.

In the summer season spread out a variety of bird food in your outdoor space, such as black-oil sunflower seed, safflower seed, nyjer seed, summer suet, nectar, fresh fruit, mealworms, and millet.

How To Attract Birds Fast
 With A Buffet Of Bird How To Attract Birds Fast With A Buffet Of Bird Food

In the winter months offering the same menu if you live in the northern regions, minus the nectar and fresh fruit will give you the opportunity to attract birds faster than with one type of cuisine.

Dried fruit can be mixed with suet during the cold months when the fruit and nectar-eating birds have migrated.

To learn about the different types of bird food you can offer to attract particular birds and the best types of feeders to offer the food in, have a look here at wild bird feeders.

4. Add a Water Source

Adding a bird bath or water source is the next step in learning how to attract birds to your yard. When water is available, many species of birds will bathe every day to keep their feathers clean and healthy. Offering shallow bird baths (one to three inches deep) or even building a small pond in your yard will help birds stay clean and hydrated.

Birds listen for moving water, so adding a pump or

Birds listen for moving water, so adding a pump or mister that creates fresh, bubbling water will draw even more feathered friends to your yard. If you live in a cold climate, you may also want to invest in a heater or de-icer to keep your bird bath or pond from freezing. Birds bathe year-round, but often struggle to find water sources in the winter, so having fresh water will make your yard a desirable destination.

6. Provide Plenty of Shelter

In addition to creating shelter with greenery, some birds (like bluebirds, sparrows, and chickadees) like the safety, warmth, and shelter of a bird box or bird house. Install your shelter on a post or tree trunk to protect from ground predators.

Make sure the entrance hole is only as large as the intended species. This prevents larger birds like hawks from getting inside and defeating the purpose of the types of bird shelters you’ve added to your yard.

All About Bird Feeders

  • How to Clean Seed Feeders When we make the decision to draw wild birds to our backyards with feeders, baths or houses we also, whether we first realize it or not must be committed to keeping them clean.
  • Where To Place Bird Feeders? It will take some experimenting on your part to find the best location for your feeder in your own backyard. Here are some tips.
  • When To Take Down? Many people are concerned if they leave their feeders up in the autumn that wild birds will not migrate. Find out the truth.

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The last physiological need for birds we will discussing is shelter.

Let’s take a look at two different backyards below.

If you were a bird, which yard would provide the m

If you were a bird, which yard would provide the most considerable amount of shelter and comfortability? Where would you want to spend your time?

It’s no surprise that the backyard on the left, with lots of trees and shrubs positioned at various locations and different heights, will attract more birds than the barren yard on the right.

No matter how extreme the weather, from rain to snow to extreme cold to sweltering heat, birds require sheltered protection. They also need shelter to escape from hungry predators, and to build nests to raise their young.

Here are a few quick tips that can provide shelter to make your yard more bird-friendly:

A. Install nest boxes

Not only will a nestbox provide shelter for numerous species, but you may also attract birds to build a nest, lay eggs, and raise their family in your backyard!

B. Plant native tree’s, shrubs, and flowers

If your yard is barren or just an empty field, my #1 recommendation is to head to your local nursery, buy some plants, and start changing your landscape!

We already know native plants provide food all year long for birds (see section 3D above).

But another fantastic benefit of native plants is that they provide shelter and places to hide and nest. Birds don’t like being exposed and sitting in the wind or rain any more than we do. They feel most comfortable when they have plenty of places to hide and protect themselves.

Northern Cardinals are a great example of a bird that likes to have some shelter near feeders before visiting. Even though they are common, cardinals are shy. Before heading out to eat from a feeder, they enjoy sitting in a tree or bush until they are ready and feel safe.

*Which plants you select for your backyard depends on what birds you want to attract. If you need guidance, the National Audubon Society has created a search tool to help filter different native plants, such as by region, birds, etc.*

Set up nesting boxes

Although most birds prefer natural cavities for nesting, a well-designed nesting box can serve as a good replacement. "These should be built according to the size specification for the bird species targeted," says Holtzman. "A house wren opening will be smaller than an opening for wood ducks." You will also need to clean and maintain the nesting boxes every year to ensure the nesting success and survival of the birds. "Cavity nesting birds have a tendency to return to the same site every year, so maintaining the box is crucial to their long-term reproductive success," he explains.

Hi Friend!

Thanks for visiting and reading! My name is Garth,

Thanks for visiting and reading! My name is Garth, and I would like to welcome you to my personal birding space.

Whether you want to attract songbirds to your backyard, enjoy birding hotspots, learn bird symbolism, or start bird photography, you are in the right place.

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