Three ways you can help birds in a cold snap

When temperatures plunge here are three simple ways you can help garden birds battle through the freezing conditions.

5 min read
A lone Blue Tit perched on a branch as snow falls.
On this page

Prepare a feast

When it’s really cold, birds need more energy to stay warm. But in winter there’s less daylight to find food and many of their usual sources run low.  

You can help birds in the winter by providing food in your outdoor space. Kitchen scraps like mild grated cheese, bruised fruit, cooked rice, unsalted bits of hard fat, roast potatoes and dry porridge oats go down a treat with garden birds. Or you can make your own full-fat high-energy bird cakes.

The other option is buying calorie-rich foods like mixed seed, sunflower seed, nyjer seed and good quality peanuts. Take a look at our shop for good examples. There are some foods you should avoid putting out as they can be dangerous for birds. Cooking fat from the roast mixes with meat juices during cooking to make a runny, greasy mixture. This sticks to feathers and stops them from being waterproof. Also avoid dried coconut, cooked porridge oats, milk, and mouldy or salted food.  

A pair of Goldfinches feeding off of a domestic bird feeder.

Keep it fresh

Birds need fresh water for drinking and bathing all year round. When the big freeze hits, try and keep your bird bath ice-free and topped up with fresh, clean water.  

Keeping your feeders clean is also essential to help reduce the spread of disease. The RSPB recommends cleaning them once a week with a mild detergent solution, such as washing-up liquid. Remember to wear gloves and get rid of any unused or mouldy food. Here’s our step-by-step guide to keeping your garden birds healthy.

A Robin bathing in a birdbath.

Provide shelter

When the bitter wind begins to bite, garden birds need somewhere to shelter from the cold. Planting dense hedges such as privet or hawthorn or letting ivy and holly grow will provide a great place for birds to roost in and shelter from the elements. Nestboxes are also in demand on cold winter nights, with birds cosying up together for communal warmth. The record number of birds found in one box is 63 wrens! 

A wooden birdbox, painted the same dark green as the fence panel it's mounted to and surrounded by leafy foliage.

Big Garden Birdwatch 

If you take these three steps you could see a flurry of extra activity in your garden this winter, all in time for the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch, taking place on 26-28 January. Find out how to get involved in the world’s largest garden wildlife survey on the link below.  
Tell me more 

Share this article