Surviving Winter...the Bird Way!
Just as we rely on coats, hats and mittens to keep us warm in the face of winter's cold grip, birds employ a number of methods to survive the adversity of winter. And you can help!
Food availability is essential as our winter temperatures drop. Quality food provides birds with the energy, stamina and nutrition they need. To stay warm, birds will expend energy very quickly, some losing up to 10% of their body weight on extremely cold nights. An ample supply of high-calorie foods; such as black oil sunflower, insects, peanuts, suet dough or nuggets and bark butter; is crucial to a bird’s health and perhaps survival. This is where we can play a vital role when extreme weather conditions occur.
Most birds will adjust their feathers to create air pockets that will help them keep warm. You will often notice the birds look fatter or "puffed up" during cold weather. This is because the birds are fluffing up their feathers; the more air space, the better the insulation.
Staying warm is not all about food and feathers though. Some birds perch on one leg at a time, drawing the free leg to their breast for warmth. Most birds will shiver for short term adjustments to the cold. Shivering converts muscular energy into heat for the short term, but the energy must be replenished shortly thereafter.
While birds are equipped to withstand most winter weather, survival can be made easier by providing reliable food availability, an open source of water and protection from the elements with natural plant cover or a nesting box (birds will use it to roost in to keep warm).
Be sure to stop by the store and let us show you which high-energy foods will help your birds brave a cold snap!
Susan, Mary, Michael, Nick, Mark and Manny & Mia, too!