Why do you feed the birds? Is it that wonderful moment of nature that you experience every time you glance out the windows at your feeders? Is it the true sense of peace that goes along with that little moment?
Maybe it is your heightened awareness of the shifting circle of the seasons, brought home by the changing birds and behaviors you see at your feeders. How about the joy you experience when introducing children to the world of nature through the abundant and beautiful birds in your yard?
Or is it the satisfaction you feel as birds flock to your feeders during severe weather, and knowing that you are actually helping them to survive another day. At this special time of the year, the delight of seeing so many active and energetic birds at your feeders, combined with the knowledge that you are having a positive impact on the quality
of their lives, makes feeding birds a true joy.
And this joy is available to everyone. By providing just a few simple things, such as nutritious foods, clean water and
ample shelter, birds can quickly become a valuable asset. Not a cash asset… but a spiritual asset that can reward anyone with many priceless hours of happiness and enjoyment.
Most people are unaware that not all birds fly south for the winter. In fact, some of the most colorful and lyrical songbirds, including jays, woodpeckers and chickadees, stay in the same area throughout the entire year. Wild
birds use a variety of techniques to stay warm during the cold winter months; however, while they are equipped to withstand most winter weather, survival can be made easier by providing food, a heated, open source of water and
protection from freezing temperatures with natural plant cover or a roosting box. These are only some steps to take
in order to attract feathered guests into the backyard this winter.
First and foremost, food is the most crucial element for a bird’s winter survival. Providing birds with the energy,
stamina and nutrition they need to stay warm will help immensely. Also, to stay warm, birds will expend energy
very quickly, some losing up to 10 percent of their body weight on extremely cold nights. In these cases, an ample
supply of high-calorie foods, such as black oil sunflower seeds, peanuts and suet can be vital to a wild bird’s survival.
“In addition to supplying birds with food, birds also need a place to bathe when temperatures drop,” said Nic Patton,
manager of Wild Birds Unlimited in Lexington “Providing birds with an open water source will allow them to clean
their feathers, which ultimately help birds stay warm. Also, a bird bath with open water is often the only way for some
birds to drink, when it’s cold.”
Many bird enthusiasts will use bird bath heaters to keep the water thawed during extensive below freezing temperatures. By either adding a heater to the water source or purchasing a bird bath with a built in heater, a bird bath
in the winter has the potential to attract as many birds as bird food!
Finally, a natural plant cover or roosting box is also advised to help protect birds from harsh winters. By providing birds with these shelter options, you are also helping them secure safety from predators.
For more advice on caring for backyard birds in cold weather, contact a Certified Birdfeeding Specialists at Wild
Wild Birds Unlimited
152 N. Locust Hill Drive
Lexington, KY 40509