Pet Connections

How do I enjoy animals in the cold PA winter?

By Ann Yeager

Many of PA’s native animals are active, year-round residents. A list of active mammals can include squirrels (all 4 types), opossums, raccoons, fox, and deer. Bird sightings may reveal blue jays, Red-tailed Hawks, Owls, crows, and waterfowl. Not all animals migrate or hibernate. And some birds seen in Pittsburgh may be winter migrants from regions in the north. You will not need to battle cold winds or traverse frozen lands to get a good look this winter. Arranging your yard with certain aspects can provide you with hours of sightings, all while tucked in your warm home!

  • Cover: Offering cover or shelter to wild animals in the winter is a great way to attract backyard visitors. Small brush piles, low trees (such as evergreens), and hedges provide natural coverage and shelter from the winds. Or leave your nesting boxes and birdhouses to provide winter havens.
  • Placement: If you decide to offer food or use feeders, be aware that you may attract some interest from species you are not intending to feed. Rodents and other opportunistic feeders will find the food just as attractive as the species you are targeting. Food is hard to come by in the winter, and animals will take advantage of every situation. Some steps can be taken to safe guard your offerings, and your property:
  • Many stores sell specialized feeders with repellants such as caged perches or squirrel baffles. 
  • Be sure to place feeders several feet or yards from your home. 
  • Offer a variety food for all animals, in different locations of your yard. 
  • Consider using a heated birdbath in your yard to provide animals with water. 

Many animals can benefit from just a few small changes to any yard. Happy Animal Watching! 


December 14, 2023
December 14, 2023


November 22, 2023