Should You Feed Robins In Winter?

Feeding robins in the winter is generally not necessary, and it may even be counterproductive in some cases. Robins are migratory birds, and many of them head to warmer climates during the winter months. The robins that remain in colder regions during winter are often those that can adapt to the conditions and find natural food sources. Here are some considerations:

  1. Robins’ Natural Diet: Robins primarily feed on insects, earthworms, and other invertebrates during the spring and summer. However, in the winter, their diet shifts to a largely fruit-based one. They are known to forage on berries, crabapples, and other available fruits.
  2. Native Food Sources: Providing supplemental food to robins may not be as beneficial as you might think. In many regions, there are naturally occurring food sources like fruit-bearing trees and shrubs that can sustain them through the winter.
  3. Potential Disruption: Feeding robins in the winter may disrupt their natural migration patterns and winter feeding habits. It can also lead to a reliance on human-provided food sources, which may not be as nutritionally balanced as their natural diet.
  4. Hygiene and Maintenance: If you choose to feed robins in the winter, it’s essential to maintain a clean and hygienic feeding area to prevent the spread of diseases. Ensure that any food provided is fresh and not spoiled.
  5. Bird-Friendly Landscaping: Instead of direct feeding, consider creating a bird-friendly landscape in your yard by planting native trees and shrubs that produce fruit during the winter months. This can provide a more sustainable food source for robins and other birds.
  6. Water Source: Ensure that there is a clean source of water available, as water can be scarce in winter. Robins, like all birds, need water for drinking and bathing.
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If you do decide to feed robins during the winter, opt for natural and appropriate foods such as fruits (e.g., apple slices, raisins, berries), and avoid using processed or artificial food. Keep in mind that it’s generally more beneficial for robins if you provide suitable habitat and natural food sources in your yard year-round. If you’re concerned about the welfare of local bird populations, consider consulting with local birdwatching groups or wildlife experts to determine the best practices for supporting birds in your area.

Should You Feed Robins In Winter?

The call of the robins

Male robins herald late winter with their cackling call as early as mid-January – when the majority of other garden birds are still silent. Their song lasts until mid-June. Only at the end of September and to November they let hear then again from itself. What hardly anyone knows is that the females also join in the birds’ autumn song. By the way, you can even set the clock according to the morning chirping: About 50 minutes before sunrise, Erithacus rubecula – its biological name – stretches its rust-red breast and raises its sonorous “zig, zig – zig, zig”.

The life of a robin is comparatively short, averaging little more than a year. 62 percent of a robin population dies within a year. By comparison, the figure is 52 percent for starlings and 42 percent for blackbirds. “This makes it all the more important for the popular robins to bring up two broods in April and June,” explains bird expert Christine Welzhofer from Gessertshausen in Bavaria.

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Nesting aids for robins

In their ancestral habitat, the forest edge, the animals are at home in dense hedges, brambles and the like, where they build their spherical nests of grasses, moss and leaves in burrows, hollow tree stumps or earth overhangs. In our tidy gardens, robins are absolutely dependent on nesting aids.

So-called half-caves with an inner surface area of ten by ten centimeters are ideal. The entrance hole must be no more than ten centimeters from the bottom of the cavity. The nest is hung up to a maximum of one meter above the garden floor, preferably hidden cat-proof in niches of sheds or in dense hedges.


  • James Jones

    Meet James Jones, a passionate gardening writer whose words bloom with the wisdom of an experienced horticulturist. With a deep-rooted love for all things green, James has dedicated his life to sharing the art and science of gardening with the world. James's words have found their way into countless publications, and his gardening insights have inspired a new generation of green thumbs. His commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship shines through in every article he crafts.

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