Winter birds suffer from high mortality when the temperatures turn colder, but providing effective shelters can help them survive even the coldest nights or most vicious storms. There are several types of shelters that can be helpful for different types of birds, and the more winter shelters there are available in your yard, the more winter birds you will have taking advantage of them.
The Risks of Winter
While birds do have many ways to keep warm in winter, the freezing rain, wind chill, and deep snow of the season can easily be fatal if birds don't have at least minimal protection. Unfortunately, just at the time when the birds need extra shelter, deciduous trees are losing their leaves and providing less protection not only from the elements but also from winter's hungry predators. Backyard birders can help their flocks, however, by providing adequate winter shelter.
Types of Winter Bird Shelters
There are many ways to provide safe shelter for winter birds, and providing that shelter and protection will help attract more birds to a winter backyard.
Evergreen Landscaping: Planting trees and bushes that keep their cover throughout the year is an easy and natural way to provide birds with winter shelter. Many of these plants will also provide seeds, nuts, or berries that can be a natural food source for wintering birds, making these plants even more valuable in bird-friendly winter landscaping. To be most effective, evergreen landscaping should include trees, shrubs, and dense groundcovers to provide shelter at all heights birds may use.
Brush Pile: Building a brush pile is a fast way to provide winter shelter for a variety of birds. Use both large and small branches to form the bulk of the brush pile with plenty of air spaces for roosting and insulation, and include evergreen boughs for extra shelter and protection. Positioning the pile in a sheltered location where it is protected from the strongest winter winds and drifting snow will make it even more attractive to birds.
Roost Boxes: Specialized bird roost boxes provide secure, comfortable shelter for different types of small birds. These boxes have unique adaptations that make them ideal for winter shelter because they will hold heat more effectively and can shelter multiple birds at once. Roost boxes can be purchased from many wild bird supply stores or made easily from scratch.