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Do Birds Use Birdhouses in the Winter? (How Birds Stay Warm)

Do Birds Use Birdhouses in the Winter? (How Birds Stay Warm)

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Having birdhouses in your yard should be a lot of fun. You love attracting birds to your yard so you can watch them.

Generally, you expect birds to nest in birdhouses during the spring and summer months. What happens in the winter, though?

Do birds use birdhouses during the winter? Or will they simply not be able to due to the cold weather?

Keep reading to learn everything that you need to know about birdhouses during the winter. This should help you to understand what to expect when winter arrives.

Some Birds Use Birdhouses in the Winter

There are indeed some birds that use birdhouses during the winter months. However, not all birds use birdhouses during this time.

Many types of birds migrate to warmer climates during the winter. These birds won’t be utilizing the birdhouses that you’ve installed in your yard.

There are some birds that stay behind during the winter, though. These birds often use birdhouses to stay out of the cold during this time.

It’s also notable that not every bird uses birdhouses. Birds that nest in birdhouses are known as “cavity nesters.”

Interestingly, many of the same birds that use birdhouses in the summer will be the ones that use them in the winter. Birds that stick around rather than migrating will continue to use the birdhouses.

You’re doing local birds a great service by providing them with shelter during the winter. Having birdhouses installed will help many birds to survive the harshest months of the year.

Of course, not all birds are going to have birdhouses that they can stay in. Some might need to sleep elsewhere.

Read on to learn more about this topic. You’ll get a better idea of what birds that don’t migrate to warmer climates do during the winter.

Some Birds Take Shelter in Trees and Shrubs

There are many birds out there that will take shelter in trees and shrubs. Many trees and bushes will provide perfect cover for birds to survive the harshness of winter.

Evergreen trees are great for this. You’ll find many birds nesting in these trees during the coldest days of the year.

Shrubs that are in safe spots will also be good locations for birds. You might notice birds hiding out in your shrubs if you look close enough.

Keep in mind that you shouldn’t disturb birds that are nesting in trees or shrubs. Only view them from afar if you’re interested in watching them.

Bird May Even Live in Brush Piles

Did you know that brush piles can be great hiding spots for birds? You might not think so, but brush piles are common spots where birds nest in the winter.

Piles of leaves that fell during the autumn might make a good home for certain birds. If you want birds to have spots where they can live during the winter, it might be beneficial to forego raking and removing the leaves from the yard.

Dead leaves and other types of brush piles can be utilized as nesting spots. You might even want to be careful where you step during the winter so as not to disturb birds and other animals.

Of course, many people won’t have brush piles on their properties. If you keep your yard tidy, it’s not something that should make you feel bad.

It’s likely that there are plenty of other spots in your yard that the birds can use as shelter. Trees and shrubs will be a much safer option anyway.

Birds Nest in Cavities

You know that birds that utilize birdhouses are cavity-nesting birds. What do these birds use when no birdhouses are available?

Simply put, they find cavities in the environment where they can build nests. Natural cavities are usually holes that birds find in trees.

Other than tree cavities, birds will also nest in other cavities. For example, it’s not unusual for birds to nest underneath decks or porches.

You might even find birds nesting in the rafters of your barn if they’re able to get inside. These birds look for cavities that will shelter them from the cold.

There could even be cavities in your home that will provide them with nesting spots. You’ll likely want to make repairs to your home if this is the case, though.

Some Birds Just Sleep On the Ground

Birds don’t necessarily have to find shelter to try to survive. Some birds will be forced to just sleep on the ground.

It isn’t unusual to spot birds huddled together on the ground at night in the winter. They huddle up to create warmth and survive when it’s cold outside.

Of course, the birds will seek shelter if they can find it. When they can’t, they might sleep on the ground as safely as they can.

This is more dangerous for the birds since they’ll be more exposed to predators and the elements. This is why having birdhouses on your property is so helpful to many birds in the winter months.

Some Birds Make Roosting Pockets

Have you ever seen birds making nests with straw or hay? Birds will create roosting pockets that can help them to survive during the winter.

Straw and other similar types of materials are great for doing this. It creates an insulated nest where the birds can stay warm.

Birds are smart, and many types of birds intuitively know how to create roosting pockets. If the necessary materials can be found in the environment, it can help the birds to survive.

This is a typical way that many birds get through harsh winters. When they don’t migrate to other climates, they’ll make roosting pockets to get through the cold days of winter.

How Birds Stay Warm

Aside from finding shelter, what do birds do to stay warm? Birds have the ability to keep themselves warm thanks to their feathers.

Feathers help to provide warmth and so does body fat. Body fat is crucial when it comes to surviving long winters.

As many types of animals do, birds store body fat for survival purposes. Having more body fat gives birds a better chance of surviving the winter.

Of course, fat helps to give the birds a food source when it’s harder to find food during the winter. Fat combined with the feathers will insulate the bird and keep it warmer, too.

Birds are even capable of fluffing their feathers so they can stay warmer. When the feathers are puffed up it’ll create a warm air pocket that will keep the bird safe.

It’s very interesting to see how birds are able to survive naturally in harsh weather conditions. Conditions can still be tough for birds even with their natural advantages, though.

You Can Help Birds to Survive the Winter

It’s possible to help birds to survive the winter. Aside from placing birdhouses in your yard, there are other things that you can do.

If you like birds and want as many of them to survive the winter as possible, it’s good to take certain steps. The information below shows you the many ways that you can make a difference for local birds.

Install Bird Feeders

Installing bird feeders on the property will be an excellent idea when you wish to help the local birds. Feeders can be placed at various locations in your yard.

It might be wise to place feeders a fair distance apart. This will give more birds the opportunity to get something to eat during the winter.

Do your best to regularly check the feeders and keep them stocked with food. If you continue to do this, it’ll give birds a reliable food source during a time when food is otherwise scarce.

This act alone can help many more birds in your area to survive the harsh winter days. It’s wise to look up what local birds are in your area so you can stock the feeders with the appropriate types of food.

Even installing just one feeder will be beneficial to the birds. Consider doing this if you love birds and you want to do your part to help them.

Give the Birds a Water Source

Water sources are harder to come by when it’s really cold, too. Putting a bath of some sort in the yard can be beneficial for the birds.

Since water sources normally freeze during the winter, you’ll need to take steps to keep the water from freezing. This can be accomplished in a few different ways.

You can keep the water moving by using some type of fountain feature or you can install a heated bird bath. Heated bird baths are fantastic and will ensure that birds have access to drinking water.

Doing this is very helpful since most birds can’t break thin layers of ice with their beaks. You’re doing them a real service by installing a bird bath.

Provide Shelter in Multiple Ways

Provide shelter for local birds in multiple ways. Installing birdhouses and roosting boxes on your property will give birds a way to stay out of the cold.

Aside from doing this, you might also want to consider planting certain types of trees and shrubs in your yard. It’ll take time for trees and shrubs to grow, but it can help future generations of birds during the winter.

Consider planting evergreen shrubs around your property. You can also allow brush piles to stay on the property instead of keeping things extremely tidy.

Doing this will give the birds more options to stay warm and safe. It should make more birds survive the winter than usual.

Protect Birdhouses

Protecting your birdhouses is something you should try to do. If you don’t, the birdhouses might not survive the winter.

If winters are harsh in your area, it could be beneficial to seal the birdhouse. You can apply a sealant to a wooden birdhouse without harming the birds.

You simply cannot apply the sealant to the inside of the birdhouse. This is because the fumes could be bad for the birds when they’re stuck inside the birdhouse.

Sealing the exterior is perfectly safe, and it’ll protect the wood more from the elements. If you want your birdhouses to stand the test of time, sealing them is a good idea.

Painting the birdhouses is an option as well. However, you can only use non-toxic paint to get the job done safely.

You cannot paint the interior of the birdhouse either. Ideally, you should paint the birdhouse using colors that will camouflage it.

The birdhouse should blend into the environment well. You don’t want it to stand out because it’ll become more of a target for predators.

You can also take other steps to protect the birdhouses from predators. Position the birdhouse as safely as you can, and pick spots where predators are less likely to reach it.

Many say that the best option is to mount birdhouses on poles in the middle of the yard. It makes it less likely that snakes will be able to get inside the birdhouse.

Final Thoughts

After learning so much about birdhouses in the winter, you should have a firm grasp of what to expect. Birdhouses are still going to be very useful to birds during the winter months.

Many types of birds don’t migrate to warmer climates in the winter. The birds that stay behind might utilize the birdhouses to stay warm during the coldest days of the year.

The same birds that use birdhouses in the summer may stay and keep living in the birdhouses during the winter. Thus, having birdhouses is going to help birds to get through the winter season.

Birds will also live in other spots during the winter. Many birds are known to live in trees and shrubs.

Some might nest in cavities that can be found in trees. Others might nest under your deck or in the rafters of your barn.

If you want to help the birds, you can install feeders and bird baths. This will help them to survive the winter because it’ll give them access to food and water.

It can be rewarding to help birds in the winter. If you’re someone who loves watching birds, you’ll enjoy doing your part to keep the birds thriving during a time of the year when resources are scarce.


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