Winter’s for the Birds

Help your feathered friends when the temperatures drop with a selection of plants that’ll keep their bellies full all season long.

Photo by Getty Images/Kenneth_Keifer

The garden sleeps in winter, and during its months of gentle slumber, there’s a stillness. The garden waits for the seasons to shift so it can awaken again. A lack of birds is a contributing factor to this solemn stillness. From the moment the first robins arrive in spring until the final migrating birds depart in fall, the garden is a busy place filled with cheerful noises and endless activity. But then winter arrives, the snow falls, and a quiet hush resides over the garden.

But here’s the thing: Your garden doesn’t have to sit dormant during winter. In fact, it can provide winter birds with the habitat and resources they need to survive and thrive during the colder months. With a bit of effort, you can encourage wintering birds to frequent your garden all season long.

Plants to Feed Wintering Birds

There’s more to feeding winter birds than consistently replenishing your bird feeders. What you grow in and around your garden can make a huge difference in the lives of local wintering birds. Due to the limited food options in winter, birds tend to make do with whatever is available, but providing a variety of plants, shrubs, and trees will encourage an equally wide variety of birds to take up residence.

Here are some of the best flowers, trees, and shrubs to grow to support your feathered friends during winter, and keep your garden filled with activity throughout the season.

Coneflower and Black-Eyed Susan

Imagine you’re a chickadee, and it’s January. There’s snow everywhere, and you’re hungry. As you flutter by a slumbering garden, you happen to notice an entire bed of last summer’s coneflowers, now dried and dark, their stems brittle, and their seeds clustered in the center of each coneflower, ready to eat.



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