What Do Robins Eat in Winter?
It’s surely a pleasant sight to see tiny robins hopping in your garden. They’re the most common birds that’ll hang in your backyard, even when the cold weather is around the corner. Is there something more cheerful than the birds’ song in the grey winter mornings?
However, there are a few things you could do to make your outdoor space more inviting for the birds to stick around all season long. The food is the first thing that’ll lure the feathered visitors onto your bird table, especially during the cold days, when it’s hard to find it elsewhere. Thus, provide them with nutritious and attractive supplies. But, you should have in mind that their diet changes throughout seasons. So, what do robins eat in the winter?
What to Feed Robins in the Snow?
Firstly, you should know that the robins aren’t feeder birds, meaning they don’t eat the food that is common in feeders – that is, seeds since they can’t digest them. They’re in a search of natural, high-energy food sources instead, that’ll give them the energy they need to survive the winter. That’s why they look for them on trees and shrubs. Fruits are high in calories and don’t spoil that easy in low temperatures.
Therefore, when the ground is frozen, try putting out some of the following foods that might catch their eyes:
- Small tree fruits (cherries, chokecherries, hawthorn, dogwood)
- Berries (blueberries, winterberries, honeysuckle, mulberries, holly)
- Vine fruits (domesticated and wild grapes)
- Unsalted crushed or grated peanuts
- Mild grated cheese
Also, make sure you put a bowl of clean water, so the birds remain clean and hydrated. All of this will probably make them come to the feeding station and feast themselves.
However, be careful where you place the bird feeder. It’s for the best to be near a bush, tree, or hedge, so the bird can hide if a predator approaches. But, not too close, since the cats can attack from the branches anytime.
Ways to Attract Robins to Your Garden
Not only the above-mentioned foods but bird-friendly landscaping will attract the birds to your garden as well. Therefore, consider the following options to make sure they’ll become the most frequent visitors to your property even in the cold days:
- Plant some shrubs and trees that provide fruits, such as bitter cherry, Indian plum, Oregon grape, or huckleberry. The birds will use the trees not only to provide themselves with food, but also to protect from the predators, the weather, and to raise their young.
- Reduce the pesticides, so the robins control insect population naturally.
- Leave the muddy shallow ponds there (if there are any), since the robins build their nests out of the mud.
- Cover the fence with a grapevine, and provide food to the birds at once.
Foods the Robins Won’t Eat
Robins are tiny birds. In other words, you shouldn’t feed them with anything too big. Dried peas, rice, wheat, beans, are just a few out of many foods that can be consumed only by larger birds. In addition, the robins don’t eat seeds that you usually leave out in the feeding stations. They prefer natural foods.
Lastly, don’t feed them bread. They’ll eat it, but it doesn’t contain any nutrients these redbreast birds require during winter. Needless to mention that milk will make them sick, right?
To sum up, during winter days the robins store up fat by consuming high-energy foods and keep warm by burning it off at night. Once the ground frosts up and gets covered by snow, the birds don’t have access to earthworms and insects anymore. Now they switch to fruits instead. So, if you were wondering what do robins eat in the winter, now you know.
Once the snow and ice cover the ground, the earthworms stay beneath, and the robins don’t have access to their meal. Therefore, they’ll look for it somewhere else. They know that the food they look for – that is, fruits, is on the trees and shrubs, and that’s exactly where they expect to find it. So, place some fruits, such as strawberries, raspberries, cherries, or sliced apple, on the ground. The redbreast feathered buddies will eventually find them and feast themselves.
The food is the primary thing that keeps the robins warm and helps them withstand extremely cold temperatures. They’re nomadic birds that travel in flocks, following food sources rather than warm temperatures. In other words, if one of the birds finds food, all of them will. Moreover, the robins fluff out their feathers, which also keep them well insulated and warm. However, it’s of the utmost importance for the feathers to be clean. Otherwise, they lose their insulation properties.
Once they find, the robins will eat bread. However, they need foods that contain nutrients that’ll provide them with fat and energy, so the birds stay warm during the cold days. The bread isn’t among those foods since it doesn’t contain any of the substances necessary for surviving the winter. Therefore, avoid leaving out bread crumbs on the bird table.