With the winter months kicking into full gear, you may be wondering what you can do to help your feathered friends stay healthy and warm during these chilly months.
As the colder months near, bird watching can become more enjoyable for the viewer, but the winter makes it a difficult time for a bird to survive. Birds tend to start changing their eating habits to prepare for the wintry weather, and believe it or not, it is not as easy as one would think for them to adapt to the change in climate. As the days grow shorter and the nights longer, finding food can become quite difficult for birds. Birds will also start to form Flocks to make it easier to find food and protect themselves from other predators. Birds rely on convenient food sources such as insects all year round, but since insects are either dead or inactive during the colder months, they may begin to eat different things like nuts and berries to beef up for the winter.
Birds may also fluff up their feathers to stay warm. In doing so, they create air pockets for more insulation, or they may draw up one of their legs closer to their bodies to stay warm. If you see them shivering, don’t worry, because birds do this temporarily to adjust to the cold weather.
What can you do the help?
Birds have a very high metabolism and are warm-blooded, but sometimes they are not prepared for a sudden drop in temperature. This is where we can intervene and help them to pull through for the winter by providing birds with rich, high calorie foods like bird seed, freeze dried insects and suet. Peanuts and other nuts are another alternative that offer high protein and fat, which is essential for survival in the winter.
Having multiple types of wild bird seed for different types of birds is ideal, and keeping your bird feeders full is also vital for their survival. Feeders should be located away from the wind as much as possible or along a line of trees for perching spots and added shelter, but should also be in an area that will allow them to watch for predators. For ground feeding, make an area in clear view for safe, effective feeding.
Water is another important source that is hard to find in the winter due to the freezing temperatures. Bird baths are a great way to provide water for them all year round, but they will also freeze if not heated. Heated bird baths are available for the avid bird watcher, but a more convenient, easier solution can be just to add a heater to the bath or put out a plastic dish with a heater in it. Without available food and water sources, a bird’s health can deteriorate very fast, especially in the winter. It can be fatal if they are without food or water in a time span, as short as 24 hours.
So, whether you are an expert of just getting started, bird feeding and watching in the winter can be a nice and peaceful hobby. Now, it’s time for you to stock up your feeders and baths, sit back and enjoy the different types of birds you can attract this season!