Are the Birds Happy It’s Cold Outside?


In my garden they are.

Winter has been delayed and flowers were still in bloom only a few weeks ago. Plants still contained seed for birds to forage, so I delayed filling the feeders. No point when they have a ready supply of nourishment. With snow coming, seed may get covered up and birds expend more energy just to locate it.

We only got an inch or so of snow on January 4th, but it was blowing and drifting. The birds in the garden spent a lot of time sheltered in the shrubs. Those above are waiting a turn at the feeder in the crabapple tree.


I can sympathize with the birds because I walked to the bank in 12° F, wind-in-your-face weather. I know it was biting cold conditions. The sidewalks in Niagara Falls are always treacherous with lumps and mounds of snow-covered ice. It is easy to trip or slip, and if anyone does in the city, they are mighty sue-happy.


No sooner than the feeder was filled, a battalion of sparrows flew in. Cardinals too. It always amazes me they know within minutes that a full feeder awaits. The lower temperatures should be short-lived according to the forecast, so birds will be back looking for a meal the way nature intended. Don’t you think these cardinals are saying, “We would rather have the seed you make available, rather than having to find it ourselves,”?


About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at:
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22 Responses to Are the Birds Happy It’s Cold Outside?

  1. Kevin says:

    The bird at the top of the post looks like it’s considering an answer to the question in your headline. Stay warm.

  2. What a stunning shot. Right on focus.

  3. Definitely true that the birds take note of when we fill the feeders.

  4. Your photos are gorgeous! Love the close-ups of them. I’ve noticed that even if your feeders are full this time of year, and there is no snow on the ground, the cardinals won’t bother coming to your feeders because they can find seeds in the fields and bushes. We very seldom see cardinals at the feeders unless there is snow on the ground.
    I have to be very careful walking outside this time of year with the snow and ice around. As much as I’d like to go out for walks in the winter, I have severe osteoporosis (and I won’t even mention how many bones I’ve fractured) and I’m always worried that I’m going to slip and break something. But luckily for me there hasn’t been much snow here until recently the same as you. Most of the photos I take of birds in winter are taken from inside my home.

  5. Cute bird photos! We’ve had more birds at our feeders this year because of the milder conditions. For example, I rarely see Tufted Titmouses in winter (mostly spring and fall), but they’ve been regular visitors lately. I wonder if they’ll stick around for the single digits and subzero temps in the forecast? The hardiest winter birds–Juncos, Chickadees, Cardinals, etc.–amaze me with their ability to survive the coldest days. And they’re all so fun to watch!

  6. swo8 says:

    I like to hear them chatter when they huddle in the bushes. It sounds like a family reunion.

  7. Stunning crisp photos. I live the snow on the beaks and the wind blown tussled crest look. I’ve been trying to get a good shot of our Stellars Jays with their crests blown sideways but they spook very easily. Your photos are encouraging.

  8. Victor Ho says:

    Hope all is well now. I’m complaining because the water temp is 78 degrees. It’s been a while since I was in 12 degree weather. All the best and happy new year.

  9. Glorious photos again. The birds do need lots of food to help them through the cold night. Am told that’s why they sing in the morning; to declare they have survived! It’s tough for the wild ones. I think they also need dense habitats which keep them more warm and less wet?

  10. It makes you wonder if birds get lazy foraging for food if feeders are up for easy access to a buffet. Winter has most definitely arrived now. I think my spring bloomers have gone back to bed, at least I hope so.

  11. You have some really lucky bird visitors. . . Always enjoy photos of your garden, no matter what the weather. Beautiful shots of these cold-weather friends, Donna!

  12. It always amazes me that animals can be outside in such a variety of weather without any added protection, like a ski jacket or boots!

  13. We have a make-shift gazebo out front and the birds have found my “gaps”. since it is covered in plastic and has screening all around – they have found a perfect winter weather hideout! LOL

  14. Stunning photos. I noticed this morning a few swallows flying around – I think they got blown a bit of course with our strong winds. Yesterday they were not as active as normal – I think they were sheltering in their nests, protecting them from the gale force winds. Very quiet for a change.

  15. debsgarden says:

    Your birds do look happy! Your pictures are not only beautiful, but also entertaining. I especially like the next to last one! We are just a bit above freezing here, and the birds are very active. Getting ready for a deep freeze, or getting ready for spring? It could be either.

  16. They certainly look happy to me and I just love that first picture.

  17. Brian Comeau says:

    They know when you fill the feeder because they are watching you…. I saw it on Alfred Hitchcock. ☺

  18. A.M.B. says:

    We finally have cold weather here too (apart from a balmy 63 degrees on Sunday)! I’ve seen lots of birds at my feeders, but no juncos, my favorite winter visitor. I hope I see them soon.

  19. That’s a beautiful set Donna, the Cardinal shots against the white snow are simply fantastic, excellent work and well done.

  20. Remember to keep water out for your wild birds folks…fresh water is just as important as food for birds in winter. IF they cannot find fresh water, birds can mistakenly drink from foul puddles that often contain oil, antifreeze and other poisons…

    • Thank you for that important reminder Diane. Most of my readers know I have two heated birdbaths in my garden all winter. My site is also a go to site (searched daily) for backyard birding, whether setting up a garden for birds, attracting them to the garden, planting for a natural food source, sheltering plants for their winter comfort and safety, or photographing them in a natural manner. Searches are all year long, but peak in January and February. As a birder, I learned so much from my fellow birders, both for the garden and in the field. Some tips are not always ones gardeners are aware. I am sure not all gardeners were aware of your note on the poisons puddle water can hold. Thank you.

  21. Adorable pictures. Here I provide suet and my neighbor puts out seed. The cardinals love to eat the suet that falls to the ground. A foot of snow here this past week and more cold and snow starting Monday. My garden and I are happy.

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