Bird Shelters for Winter

Bird Shelters for Winter

Birds are such fun additions to gardens. While you may keep your domestic birds nicely sheltered in your home or in outdoor aviaries, the wild birds in your garden may be suffering the chills of winter—often dying as a result. 

Adding wild bird shelters for winter to your garden can give your local wild birds a chance at surviving the cold season. 

Wild bird winter shelters are not just a place for your local birds to sleep, but they are also there to shelter these birds against storms and predators. Some wild birds may frequent a weather shelter every day or night, while other birds may use these shelters as opportunistic places to weather a harsh storm. 

Why Do Wild Birds Need Bird Shelters for Winter?

If you’ve never had to walk outside in a cold winter storm, you probably won’t know what it feels like to be cold and wet. There’s nothing better than getting indoors, taking a warm bath, eating a hot meal, and just thawing. Yet, a wild bird doesn’t have that option. 

In winter, when storms hit, wild birds are often soaked by driving rain, and then they are frozen solid by cold polar winds. The result is a tragedy of dead birds all over the frozen ground the next morning. 

Yet, with a few simple wild bird shelters and some extra feed, you can make a huge difference to your local bird life in the winter.  Note: Hot weather also creates special feeding needs for birds.

Wild bird winter shelters offer birds a place out of the wind, free from the rain, and warmed from the snow. In these simple shelters, wild birds can ride out a storm, snuggle up on a cold night, and safely rest from winter predators that would easily eat a weary bird. 

While you may believe a wild bird should have their own adaptations such as warm plumage to keep them toasty despite the cold, the truth is that winter’s harsh combination of wind and rain (or snow) is a killer. Wet birds can’t use their feathers to warm themselves, and in high wind, it is impossible to warm up, no matter how many feathers they have. 

It’s time to make some bird shelters for winter in your garden.

Bird Shelters for Winter With Low Opening
Winter Birdhouse or Winter Nest Box

3 Methods of Making Bird Shelters for Winter 

From sourcing natural materials, strategic placement of sheltered areas, and bird boxes to getting creative with remnants, providing bird shelters for winter is essential to helping wild birds survive.  Keep in mind that if you have an existing bird house that is not in the best place to keep birds sheltered, you can, in fact, move it.

Natural Methods for Wild Bird Shelters

Natural methods for making bird shelters for winter are often the easiest way to help wild birds weather a storm or stay warm on a cold night. Something as simple as leaving some prunings on a heap for small birds to hide under can help a bird survive inclement weather. 

Consider planting more evergreens to help provide a natural windbreaker. In the dead of winter, a garden with only deciduous trees will see massive bird death. Leave your yard trimmings until early spring, allowing the extra branches and leafy buildup to create natural warm pockets for birds to shelter in winter. 

Other natural methods to shelter birds in winter include leaving materials like brush piles, stacks of wooden logs and branches, piles of leaves, or a few slivers of hay stacked in buckets or on an abandoned lawn chair. Birds will find these, burrow inside, and use these and warm bedding materials to create snug shelters in winter. 

Boxing Methods for Wild Bird Shelters

Wild bird winter shelters can include bird boxes, and even nesting boxes can be appropriated during a cold snap to shelter birds. A winter box is somewhat different from a nesting box, where summer heat necessitates ventilation and easy access for returning moms that feed hungry chicks. 

A snug winter bird box for wild birds will have fewer ventilation holes, so if you are using a summer box, simply plug the higher up ventilation holes. These holes will allow warm air to escape, cooling the box. Your goal is to make the box warm and wind resistant, so keep the warm air inside.

Add in some warm bedding material such as hay, and even sawdust can be used in a pinch. Sawdust tends to blow away, and when wet, it doesn’t dry so easily. Shredded paper can also help with heat retention if the box is water-resistant. 

To keep your winter bird visitors safe, be sure to place the winter boxes high in trees or under the eaves of your house where predators can’t reach them. 

Paint your winter boxes with dark colors that absorb more light and warmth during the day as this will ensure a warmer box at night. 

Bird Shelters for Winter to Keep out the Cold
Bird Box in Winter

Creative Methods for Wild Bird Shelters

You can also use unique and interesting objects and alternative places for winter bird shelters. Anything can shelter a weary bird from the storm as long as the bird will be dry and out of the wind. Consider these great alternatives to help your local wild birds in winter:

  • Make your own bird boxes with old shoe boxes and some warm bedding material. Simply cut a hole in the lower half of the box, fill it with hay or an old rag. Place the box somewhere out of the rain such as on your front porch or near the garden shed. You can tie the lid in place too and add a few smaller ventilation holes. 
  • Repurpose an old pail as a bird shelter for winter by placing a sturdy lid on the top, cutting a hole near the bottom and filling it with some soft bedding. Be sure to secure the lid and hang this under a tree where birds can access it. 

Wild Bird Winter Shelters FAQs

How can you help wild birds survive the winter cold?

By adding wild bird winter shelters such as bird boxes, roosting boxes, natural shrubs, garden debris that protects against the elements, and even making your own bird shelters, you can help wild birds survive a storm. 

Where do wild birds go when it’s cold?

During cold weather, wild birds will seek areas of natural warmth such as under a brush, in fallen logs, under the roof eaves, and in any man-made shelter that’s on offer such as a roosting box or winter box. 

The Wild Bird Shelters for Winter Wrap Up

Wild birds have to survive the elements, but often a storm can be severe, challenging these birds’ abilities to stay warm. This is where making your own wild bird shelters for winter can really save a few feathered lives. 

Bird shelters for winter can be placed in your garden, and these help keep the local birds dry and out of the wind. By not being wet or battling against strong winds, a bird can save energy and survive the cold.

Further Reading: Keep Humans Warm with Amazing Blankets and Quilts