Winter may be one of the best times for bird-watching. With the foliage down, it is easier to see and enjoy your backyard residents.
While certain species like hummingbirds migrate to warmer climates in winter, there’s still a rich diversity of birds to see year-round.
These birds could use your help to make it through the winter, and here are a few tips that will make their lives a little easier with the cold weather.
Warmth: Birds have a bunch of different strategies to keep warm in winter. Some grow additional feathers. They “fluff” themselves to create air pockets that increase the insulation ability of their down. Some even slow their metabolism to conserve energy, and more social birds like chickadees huddle together in the night.
- You can help by keeping bird boxes clean and keep trees that have cavities, which are popular nesting spots.
Water: During the winter, fresh water is crucial to a bird’s survival. While birds can eat snow, that costs them precious energy. Plus water is valuable not only for drinking but for preening. Those extra winter feathers won’t help them if they can keep them clean.
- You can help by keeping at least one birdbath in the garden that is consistently filled with fresh water. A heated birdbath is a plus, but more importantly place your birdbath where the birds will be safe (i.e., not near a place where predators like cats can hide and then pounce).
Food: Birds spend more calories to keep warm in the winter and therefore need more nourishment.
- You can help by providing a variety of food through your garden vegetation and feeds. Suet, thistle, sunflower seeds, dried berries, fruit and seed assortments that are readily available will benefit a diverse population of birds. Also, if you have a dying tree, think about keeping it (unless it’s a hazard) this winter. These trees are great places for birds to find insects to feast on, and their cavities make great resting places.
We hope you and your birds are enjoying this winter. We’ve got a great selection of bird food, feeders and baths that can help you help the birds this winter.
Happy gardening (and bird-watching),