Do Birds Use Bird Houses as Shelter During the Winter?

The long winter season can be a tough time for birdwatchers as a variety of birds head south until the warmer temperatures return. You might wonder if it’s even worth hanging up a bird house at all. Not so fast. Many birds stay put and could use a cozy home to weather the winter season. Read on to learn more about how to prepare a comfy shelter for the birds.

Do Birds Use Bird Houses During the Winter?

Country Cottage Wooden Outdoor Hanging Bird House - 9.25"

Typically birds make use of bird houses for nesting and roosting. Nesting occurs in the spring when our feathered friends are creating nests to prepare for the next generation. However, birds also make use of bird houses for roosting or resting. Bird houses provide a safe place to get a good night’s rest, huddle together with other birds to keep warm, hide from predators, and wait out ice and snowstorms. Even though the bird population might drop during winter, bird houses definitely provide some benefits for the remaining birds. However, you do have to make some preparations to make sure your bird house is ready for winter.

How to Prepare a Bird House for Winter

#1 Clean It Out

Who doesn’t love a tidy home? Birds are no exception. Before winter begins, take down your bird house and give it a good cleaning. Remove any old nesting materials that might have been left behind by the previous residents. While you’re at it, this is also a good time to do some home renovations. Make any necessary repairs to the structure of the bird house to assure that it is sturdy enough to last in the snowy weather.

#2 Winterize the Bird House

Birds’ needs change dramatically from summer to winter. The cracks and holes that provided ventilation and airflow during the summer months are now allowing cold and dampness to seep into the house. Be sure to patch up any holes or cracks so the house stays nice and warm.

#3 Add Perches

Birds prefer to have a few other roommates living with them. This way they can huddle together and stay warm. Adding a few branches or dowels to the inside of the bird house can provide more places for the birds to sit instead of crowding the floor. This ensures that there is more space for their feathered friends to come and spend the night.

#4 Location, Location, Location

Placing a bird house in the right spot can make the house more attractive to winter birds. Look for a place that receives a significant amount of sunlight in order to keep the house as warm as possible. You should also try to find a place that does not experience high winds that may knock it down during a winter storm. To avoid hungry predators, make sure the house is positioned high enough off the ground that other animals will not be able to reach it by climbing or jumping.

Other Ways to Help Birds During the Winter

#1 Provide Food

 Sunnydaze Mosaic Fly-Through Hanging Bird Feeder - 6" - Confetti

For non-migratory birds, finding food during the winter can be a bit of a challenge. Birds typically enjoy a diet of insects, berries, and seeds. During the colder months two out of three of their favorite foods are no longer available. Not only is it important for the birds to eat up to prevent starving, they also require extra body fat in order to stay warm. Give your feathered friends a helping hand by ensuring that your feeder is always full.

#2 Fresh Water

Water is another commodity that is hard to find during the winter. When temperatures drop and many water surfaces freeze over, it can be tough for birds to access fresh water because their beaks are not strong enough to crack through the ice. Contrary to popular belief, birds tend to use bird baths for drinking more than bathing. Keep your bird bath filled and prevent it from freezing to ensure the local birds always have fresh water. Check out our blog article, 10 Do’s and Don’ts to Keep Your Bird Bath From Freezing During the Winter, to learn how.

#3 Additional Shelter

Bird in pine tree

Besides bird houses, birds can also use shrubbery and trees to take shelter and hide from predators. Placing brush piles or evergreen shrubs in your yard can give them additional options for shelter. Plus, this is a handy way to repurpose your Christmas tree after the season is over.

Bird houses may seem more active during the spring nesting period, but they are even more important to the birds during the winter. Our feathered friends who stay home over the season need all the help they can get. Fortunately, it is easy to create a comfortable place for them to escape the cold.

For more ideas on how to help birds all year round, check out our other Birds and Wildlife articles.

Birds & wildlife

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