Winter is also hard on our feathered friends. This month they are struggling to find resources to stay alive after February’s bitter cold and snow.
Birds do have a variety of coping methods for survival. Some grow additional feathers for warmth. Others fluff up their feathers to create air pockets for insulation. Some are like bears. While they don’t actually hibernate, they do slow their metabolism to conserve energy. Social birds like chickadee roost together at night in sheltered spots such as tree hollows. The combined heat generated by the group helps them stay warm. Yet survival is still perilous.
We can make it our mission to help these beautiful creatures thrive until spring.
Your mission: Make sure your bird houses are clean so birds can shelter there. If you have cavities in trees, don’t fill them in.
Like all living things, birds need water to survive. Yes, they can eat snow, but that takes energy better used for other things. Water also helps birds keep their feathers clean which increases the insulation value.
Your mission: Keep water available. Heated water baths (to keep the water ice free) are wonderful. Be sure to keep them full and clean. Also provide a safe zone around the water free of hiding places for predators.
Birds burn a lot of calories to stay warm. Food is scarce. Some birds store caches of nuts and seeds for winter consumption. Sometimes they find dormant insects in tree bark. But by mid-winter, our birds are hungry.
Your mission: Provide a variety of food sources with feeders containing suet, thistle, sunflower seeds, berries and fruits to suit many different kinds of birds. Leave dead and dying trees in place to shelter bugs and provide cavities for your bird friends.
Care for your flock now and you will reap the reward of birdsong and color in the spring.