Robins In Winter Time: Tips On Helping Robins Overwinter In The Garden

Robin Perched On A Red Berried Tree With A Berry In Its Mouth
winter robin
(Image credit: Kenneth_Kiefer)

Many of us in certain regions consider the robin an indicator of spring. Once they return to an area, the tides have turned and the warm sunshine is only a blink away. Robins in other areas are year-round residents and may need a bit of help during the winter. Helping robins overwinter is important because the population of these birds is on the decline. Keep reading to learn what to feed winter robins and help preserve these beautiful birds.

How to Help Robins in My Yard

Glorious inhabitants of our backyards and open spaces, these common red-breasted birds may overwinter in cold regions or go to warmer climates. In areas where they stay for the cold season, robins in winter may need a little help with food and habitation. Some tips on how to help winter robins will help preserve these lovely birds and give you a close up look at their breeding and life cycles.

Most of us have observed these cheerful birds pulling worms from our sod or gardens. Robins are fairly hardy birds but do require a large amount of food to get through winter. Helping robins in winter is easy and keeps bird watchers happily occupied as they note the various stages of the bird's life.

The first details on how to help winter robins are habitation and a steady food supply. Once you have these in place, the birds will stick around and give you a bird's eye view of their daily activities. Watching birds is a peaceful and Zen occupation that every member of the family can enjoy.

What to Feed Winter Robins

If you are in a region where the birds stay for winter, food is of primary importance. Their usual meal is probably frozen and hard to access. Setting up food stations benefits robins as well as any other birds that stay during the cold season. Food is more important right now than anything else for robins, as it helps fuel their metabolism and keep them warm while building fat storage.

Robins will feed on any berries that remain on bushes and vines. When they can get them, robins will snack on insects and worms. Standard bird seed does not seem to attract them, as these birds prefer a varietal diet of live insects and fruit. Placing fruit outdoors will help sustain robins but may attract other animals. Put any offerings up high where only the birds can access the snacks.

Tips on Helping Robins Overwinter

Robins will use a platform to build their nests. You can find many simple plans for a bird platform online or develop your own. It doesn't have to be fancy, just an elevated space with a bit of board will do. The birds will be attracted to a roost where they can situate their nest for the spring breeding season.

Outside of providing fruit and nesting space, keep fresh, unfrozen water available. They like to bathe frequently. In extreme cold, there are heated units to put in the birdbath. The water will remain liquid and at a temperature that delights the birds.

Helping robins overwinter gives the birder a unique opportunity to take photos and observe these animals in action. To keep them safe, do not use pesticides in the lawn. This can contaminate their natural food source and harm the birds.

Prevent competitive species in spring when they are nesting. These include jays, crows, and hawks. Do not feed such potentially damaging animals. If you have a cat, create a high birdhouse for the birds out of kitty’s reach. Around April, mating pairs will begin making a nest and laying eggs. This is a time to be especially vigilant, so the babies can grow up safely.

Bonnie L. Grant

Bonnie Grant is a professional landscaper with a Certification in Urban Gardening. She has been gardening and writing for 15 years. A former professional chef, she has a passion for edible landscaping.