What do robins eat in winter? 4 tips to help robins survive in winter

Robin is a unique and special bird species that can adapt to winter survival while the weather is freezing. If you want robins to stay in your backyard during the severe season, you should learn what do robins eat in winter and how to preserve these beautiful birds. 

Do robins migrate in winter and how do they survive in winter?

What do robins eat in winter
Source: All about birds

Robins react to freezing temperatures in two ways.

The southward retreat is common. While locations further to the south, like Texas and Florida, receive sizable winter flocks of robins, northern Canada is nearly empty of them. However, robins can tolerate extremely cold temperatures by developing warm, soft feathers to their plumage, thus they are not drawn to the journey by warmer temperatures. Food is the true driving force. Robins start looking for new food sources when their supply of earthworms and insects from their warm-weather diet diminishes.

The second way robins choose is to stay up north. These year-round residents may need a bit of help to overwinter. Although they have to make certain adaptations during the harsh conditions, helping them with food and habitation is important to protect this bird species, which is considered to be the first sign of spring.

Many kinds of birds really need your help during the winter, check out these articles to see more tips to feed birds and help them survive winter:

What do robins eat in winter?

Source: BBC Wildlife Magazine

For robins that decide to stay in cold areas during winter, they switch their diet from invertebrates, which are high in protein, to winter fruits and berries, which are high in vitamins, such as junipers, hollies, crabapples, and hawthorns. Any berries that are still on vines and bushes will be consumed by robins. Robins will eat insects and worms when they can get their hands on them. 

One of the most organic foods you can give to robins huddling in your yard throughout the winter is dried mealworms or live mealworms. They are the ideal meal because they are high in calories and protein. Dried mealworms can be bought online, easily prepared, and mix any amount in with seed mix. You can buy live mealworms at fish shops, wild bird stores, or pet shops. I will suggest mealworm beetles because, with a size of 1-1.5 inches long, these insects are a rich source of protein that is necessary for muscle development in birds. 

Source: Kreca Feed

A shallow dish with straight, smooth edges, such as a small plastic or glass dish or jar, should be used to serve live mealworms. Specialized mealworm feeders can be simply mounted to poles or platform feeding stations and have a sturdy bottom and high enough sides to trap the insects.

Moreover, it is vital to keep in mind that robins are unable to chew and digest birdseed. The beaks of robins are not sharp enough to crack open nuts or birdseed, and even if they could, they would not be able to digest the little nuts. Furthermore, robins are unlikely to even glance at the bird feeder while on their quest for food because they learn over time that food comes from trees.

How to feed robins in the winter?

Planting more fruit-bearing native plants

Besides, fruit-bearing native plants undoubtedly attract fruit-eating birds. However, fruit left outside will support robin populations but may draw unwanted wildlife. Any goods should be placed high where only birds can reach them. 

There are some plants that can provide food for robins during the winter you can consider growing in your gardens such as American Crabable, smooth sumac, winterberry, Cranberrybush Viburnum, and American bittersweet. 

Provide a warm water source 

Outside of providing food, you can help robins by keeping fresh, unfrozen water available. Many water sources will freeze once the temperature drops below a certain point, which forces the robins to eat the snow to stay hydrated, but it requires a lot of energy to warm. 

By offering a heated bird bath, you are assisting birds to save their energy for foraging, flying, and sustaining body heat. When drinking water is scarce in the winter, robins are frequent visitors to birdbaths, and many other species are certain to flock to your yard as well.

If you see winter robins in your neighborhood, you can provide for them by setting out a dish full of berries and a small bowl of water.

Put food and water in an easy-to-get place

Place the berries and water nearby a bush to improve the chance that robins will successfully find the food and water because they will naturally flock towards trees and shrubs to gather nourishment. 

It is crucial to place it close to a hedge, tree, or bush when the foliage is scarce since these structures will offer the required cover if a predator comes. However, avoid placing it too close as resourceful animals like cats may use branches to launch an unexpected attack.

No use of pesticides

One thing needed to remember to keep birds safe in your garden is not using pesticides on the lawn. This could hurt the birds by contaminating their natural food supply. 


What does it mean when you see a lot of robins in the winter?

Robins are linked to the onset of spring and new beginnings in addition to the apparent association with the season of goodwill. Some people believe that running into a robin foretells a major change in your life. They are associated with the concepts of happiness and progress into a new, fulfilling stage of life. 

What can I feed robins in the snow?

They might be drawn to a platform feeder that offers a variety of items. Similar to wild fruits are dried fruits like raisins, cranberries, and currants. Small chunks of suet, either uncooked or crumbled from a suet cake, may also be tried by robins. If you’re generous, consider purchasing mealworms from a bait shop or a wild bird supply store. The constantly thirsty species should be attracted in large numbers by a heated birdbath. Robins may not visit bird feeders.

What happens to robins in the winter?

Regardless of the weather, robins keep their body temperature at about 104°F. They produce body heat throughout the cold by shivering, and they keep their body temperature up by fluffing their feathers, which serve as a barrier from the wind and snow. 

They need a lot of energy to maintain their body temperatures, which they obtain from their food. According to studies, more robins than we may realize spend the winter here; instead of moving, they merely alter their behavior. While robins are non-territorial in the winter and will congregate in migratory flocks to gorge on berries, in the spring the flocks will disperse in search of and claim good nesting areas. 

What temperature is too cold for robins?

Without assistance from humans, robins have endured blinding blizzards, ice storms, and nights that reached 30 below zero. Their body temperature beneath their feathers is approximately 104 F degrees, regardless of how cold it may be outside.


If robins choose to stay around your backyard during the winter,  these intelligent and beautiful birds have a winter survival strategy in place. However, some assistance from humans will help them live much better during harsh weather. Learn more about what do robins eat in winter, you will know that putting out bowls of fruit and water for them may feed them well. Just bear in mind that while they won’t eat the birdseed, they will undoubtedly appreciate the cranberries and grapes.