How to Attract More Birds to Your Garden in Late Winter

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Winter birds are a delight in the garden, and with the proper prep work, you can ensure your space offers them a sanctuary to thrive until spring. Here’s how to get started.

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Nothing adds more visual interest to a drab winter backyard than a flock of birds. Gardeners love attracting these feathered friends to their growing space at any time of year, but birds benefit the most from some attention in the winter.

While many bird populations migrate to warmer weather in the spring, others stay up in one location year-round and simply tough out bad weather. But, as food and shelter are often in short supply over the colder months, taking time to make them accessible will go a long way toward helping birds thrive until spring.

Here’s how to turn your garden into a winter paradise for birds to ensure they prioritize your yard as a pit stop during their migration process.

How to Attract More Birds to Your Garden in Late Winter
How are Birds Beneficial to the Garden?

Attracting birds to your garden is about more than having something to watch from the window. They offer real benefits for your growing space by keeping pest populations in check and eating weed seeds before they can germinate. Keep birds content in your yard, and there’s less reason to use toxic pesticides or herbicides.

Birds also improve biodiversity by creating habitat space for other animals by eating and expelling fruit seeds that grow into new trees and shrubs.

How to Attract More Birds to Your Garden in Late Winter
Eight Ways to Attract Birds to Your Garden

Putting out a bird feeder doesn’t go far enough for attracting winter birds to your garden. Follow these eight tips to ensure they want to spend time in your yard.

1. Think in Layers

When arranging your yard for the benefit of birds, it’s best to think in terms of layers. Birds love to flit between different heights for their food and shelter, so fill your space with tiers of plants. Think tall trees with brushy understory and vines or groundcover below. Your goal should be to mimic the diversity of nature. The greater the mix of vegetation, the more bird varieties you can attract.

How to Attract More Birds to Your Garden in Late Winter
2. Plant Shrubs to Attract Birds

Evergreen shrubs are a favorite winter shelter for birds. They offer protection from windy, wet weather and give them a space to hide from predators. If looking to attract birds, make sure you don’t prune your shrubs heavily before winter. This ensures they maintain many nooks and crannies for the birds to tuck themselves into.

How to Attract More Birds to Your Garden in Late Winter
3. Keep Berries Available

Consider planting flowering shrubs that produce late-season berries to ensure the birds have a winter food supply. It’s best to seek out varieties that hold onto their fruit over the winter. In fact, many berry varieties don’t become tasty for birds until they’ve gotten sweet from going through several freeze and thaw phases.

How to Attract More Birds to Your Garden in Late Winter

Popular backyard varieties include red chokeberry, blueberry viburnum, winterberry holly, bayberry, dogwood, crabapples, beautyberry, sumac, elderberry, and others. Native roses also work well, as they develop fleshy red fruit (the rose “hips”) for birds in the winter.

4. Plant Plenty of Seed- and Nut-Producing Trees

Birds require a lot of calories to sustain themselves through winter. Help them out with a yard filled with seeds and nuts. Think beyond the birdfeeder by planting evergreens, junipers, firs, or hemlocks throughout.

Each will produce a bounty of nutrient-rich pinecones that make for stellar winter snacks for grosbeaks, woodpeckers, chickadees, and more. The birds will enjoy nestling among the pine needles for wind protection against winter storms.

Birds will also appreciate it if your space contains a variety of nut-producing deciduous trees like oaks, walnuts, hickories, and hazelnuts for an additional food source.

How to Attract More Birds to Your Garden in Late Winter
5. Grow Grasses

This fall, skip the lawnmower and let the grasses in your yard go to seed. These seed heads provide an excellent food source for birds and are easy to snack on. (You can mow them back again in the spring.) Many bird species also make ground nests and will appreciate the coverage of grasses to keep them out of plain sight.

Consider planting native grasses throughout your landscape for greater ecological benefits. Varieties to consider include switchgrass, hair grass, and both big and little bluestem. These grasses also provide habitat space for insects, another favorite food source for winter birds.

How to Attract More Birds to Your Garden in Late Winter
6. Offer (Clean) Shelter and Birdseed

One of the easiest ways to provide for backyard birds this winter is by putting out birdseed and birdhouses for them. Make sure you thoroughly wash any birdhouse on your property before winter to ensure that it doesn’t spread pests and diseases to the birds that use them.

How to Attract More Birds to Your Garden in Late Winter

Different varieties will go after different seed types, but it’s generally good to fill the feeders with an assortment of black oil sunflower seeds, peanuts, and white millet. You can also buy blocks of suet, which contain fat with seeds and fruit mixed in.

Note: Stay consistent with keeping the feeders filled. Birds are creatures of habit, and they will soon start depending on your feeder as a food source and may become in trouble if the food runs out. Make sure you stock it up before leaving on a trip to ensure the birds won’t suffer in your absence.

How to Attract More Birds to Your Garden in Late Winter
7. Have Water Accessible

You may not think of it, but birds often struggle to find enough clean water in winter weather. Ponds can freeze over, and people tend to stop filling their birdbaths as soon as temperatures drop. Instead, consider investing in a portable de-icer for your bird bath and keep it filled in the winter. You’ll be amazed how many bird varieties this simple step will attract to your yard.

How to Attract More Birds to Your Garden in Late Winter
8. Keep Things Wild

Tempting as it may be to tidy up your garden at the end of the fall, winter birds will prefer the space left a little rougher around the edges. Leave old garden plants in place, especially those with flowers or seed heads. An abundance of wild creatures will appreciate the extra food and habitat space.

Start Attracting Birds to Your Yard Today!
How to Attract More Birds to Your Garden in Late Winter

Winter birds are a delight in the garden. They add a pop of color to otherwise dreary landscapes and serve as a reminder that better weather is coming again. Follow these tips to attract them to your growing space, and you’ll enjoy their cheerful presence all season long.