Birds in Winter Climates

A titmouse eating from a birdfeeder in winter.

Winter can be a fun time to look for birds. Winter birds visit backyards in search of food and water. They also look for shelter from the wintry weather. Winter birds do not migrate to warmer places. They stay in the cold climate and brave the winter months. Winter birds have special features that help them survive. These adaptations help them overcome the challenges of limited food supply and extreme weather. Winter birds grow lots of new, fluffy feathers in the winter. These down feathers can be fluffed up to keep them warm.  The down feathers are also waterproof, so the birds’ bodies stay dry. In early fall, birds try to eat as much as they can so that when winter comes, they have an extra layer of fat. Winter birds use feathers and fat as insulation. Small birds huddle together in tight spaces. This is called roosting. Winter birds roost to stay warm.

Cardinal resting on a tree branch in the snow.

Cardinals are one of the most common birds of winter.  They do not migrate. Cardinals flock together to roost and stay warm. They are easy to spot because of their beautiful red feathers. Cardinals can be seen year-round, especially if you fill a bird feeder for them.

What Can You Do?   Would you like to help birds survive in the winter? Learn how to make a bird feeder to give extra food to birds in your neighborhood.

Photo Credit: (t)Shutterstock/Iryna Rasko, (b)Nathan Rathbun/USFWS.