Winter Migration: Which birds stay and how do they stay warm?

Winter migration and the backyard birds who stay behind can raise many questions about how a bird survives such journeys and temperatures.

When the winter snow starts falling in many parts of the country some backyard birds will have already departed for warmer climates while other birds are migrating into backyards from further North. Only the heartiest of colder climate wild birds, which have evolved for winter weather, have stayed behind. One is bound to wonder, “who are these resilient birds and how in the heck do they survive the seemingly near arctic tundra of the winter season?”

The menagerie of winter bird species can vary and change depending on where you live, what your yard looks like, and how the weather is acting. Below is a list of many of the commonly seen birds of winter that will frequent backyards throughout the country during the snowy season.

  • House FinchesDroll Yankees Peanut feeder
  • House Sparrows
  • Tufted Titmice
  • American Goldfinches
  • Pine Siskins
  • Downy Woodpeckers
  • Black-capped Chickadees
  • Northern Cardinals
  • Dark-eyed Juncos
  • American Robins
  • European Starlings

Many of you may be wondering how these birds are able to stay warm in the near freezing temps and sometimes ceaseless winds that winter brings. It is quite simple actually. Think of yourself in a puffy down coat or under a big down comforter. When you’re cozy and settled in, the down traps your body heat into little pockets of comfy warmth. The same is true for birds. To create insulation, our warm blooded bird buddies fluff up their feathers and create their own little air pockets in between them. In a very short time, the air warms and the birds are wrapped in a blanket of cold busting heat. In order to keep up this warmth though, the birds must eat a great deal of fat rich food to generate the necessary heat. That is where the great importance of your backyard bird feeders comes into play! By feeding the right foods this winter, you can make the lives of winter birds much easier.