1. Keep your feeders well stocked, especially first thing in the morning. After a long, cold night, your backyard birds need high-energy foods like black oil sunflower seeds, quality suet, peanuts and peanut butter.
2. Make sure your bird feeders are clear of snow and ice. After a heavy snow, my feeders are covered and need to be cleaned in order for my birds to access their seeds and suet. I like to do this early in the morning so they are assured of a warming breakfast!
3. Purchase an inexpensive bird bath heater at your local garden center or online. Hook it up to a UL listed and approved outdoor extension cord, place it in your bird bath or in a shallow water trough, and you will please flocks of thirsty birds all winter long. I cover my heater with a flat stone, just because it looks more natural to the birds than a shiny metal object. But you don’t need to; the low voltage and protective coil cover keep birds safe.
4. Install roosting boxes where birds can huddle together at night. These should have internal perches or open mesh attached to the walls to which birds can cling as they sleep. The roost boxes should also have a removable clean out to get rid of debris and droppings on a regular basis. I use wood shavings and saw dust in mine, which make it much easier to clean.
5. Build a brush pile which your feathered visitors can use for shelter and food sources, especially during blizzard conditions. Start with a layer of dry leaves, and add larger trunks of small trees and saplings in a crisscross fashion, which will leave pockets where birds can hunt for tiny insects, and stay warm. Add more to the pile as branches fall and collect around your yard. If you have evergreens, they can be added to the top of the pile as a ‘roof’.
6. Plant conifers! These types of non-deciduous trees are perfect all around habitats for your birds. Check local growers and nurseries for native species that will easily acclimate and flourish in your area. Various fir, pine and evergreen trees and shrubs provide food, shelter, nesting places and hiding areas from predators. Their dense habits make them ideal for winter survival refuges your backyard wild birds will surely appreciate.
While it is true that wild birds have adapted physically to handle winter storms and cold temperatures, humans can still make a huge difference in their survival rates. And who doesn’t want more colorful, happy singing birds to brighten their days?