Wild Birds Unlimited – Omaha, NE

October 30, 2012

Help Birds Keep Warm This Winter

Filed under: Birds — wbuomaha @ 11:48 am
Tags: , ,

     In the cold of winter, there are many things you can do to help birds survive the season. Here are a few tips that are easy to implement.

Birds use a lot of extra energy to keep warm in cold weather. Therefore, they must consume more calories than they do in warmer months. You can help by feeding high-fat foods such as suet, peanuts and seed blends high in black oil sunflower content. This will provide the energy boost they need to survive.

Unless raccoons frequent your yard, it is a good idea to fill your feeders in the evening to make sure food is available first thing in the morning for those early birds like cardinals and mourning doves. Most songbirds fill a special pouch in their esophagus with food to digest during the night. That is why you frequently see birds at your feeders as the sun sets. They replenish this food supply in the morning.

It is not a good idea to feed bread to the birds in winter. Bread does not provide the proper nutrition or fat content necessary for birds to survive below-freezing temperatures.

During harsh weather, birds favor feeders protected from the wind. Place your feeders near cover such as evergreen trees or bushes, densely branched shrubs, brush piles, stands of tall grasses or hollow logs so birds can quickly duck into shelter from wind and snow or escape from predators.

     Water is important to birds in winter not only for drinking, but also for bathing. Most birds fluff out their feathers, creating air pockets between the feathers for insulation. Clean feathers are warmer feathers because they can trap air more efficiently. They are also more efficient for flying, so less energy is expended in flight. A heated birdbath that provides a source of open water will attract birds on even the coldest of days. Although birds can eat snow for hydration, the snow lowers their body temperature, thus requiring them to eat more food to keep warm.

Some birds perch on one leg and draw the other up to their breast for warmth, alternating legs. Others seek the most sheltered areas they can find. Roosting boxes and nesting boxes give birds a dry place protected from the wind, to rest. Leaving these shelters out provides a haven from severe winter conditions.

Making your yard bird-friendly in cold weather helps birds survive harsh winters. And you will be rewarded with colorful visitors all season long.


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