The polar vortex, record low temperatures in the deep South, gripping snow storms that paralyzed many cities… thankfully we’re finally starting to thaw out! This is when creature comforts of home can be most appreciated, especially if you had to spend any length of time outdoors in this frigid weather.
Birds and wildlife in general have additional stresses during severe cold as they must expend more energy to find food and shelter. Sure they’ve adapted, and use various methods for coping with high winds and biting cold. The weaker of any species may succumb to starvation or predation, thus the old adage “survival of the fittest”.
Wild birds will seek shelter in shrubs, dense foliage, natural cavities, even birdhouses and roosts. Some, like bluebirds, will even huddle together for warmth. Many common backyard birds will spend the entire day at bird feeders packing on calories to make it through another night. Peanuts, suet and black oil sunflower provide power-packed meals for most of our feathered friends! Keeping feeders clean and full greatly increases survival rates of resident songbirds during freak weather like last week.
But what about water – surely with all that snow out there, birds can get water? Yes, they can, but it costs them dearly. The snow must be converted to water, which takes precious energy, and during single-digit temps, every ounce of energy must be conserved in order to survive.
This is when heated bird baths can literally be life savers for some birds since they require water daily. Some baths may even form ice around the edges, but they’ll still leave open water towards the center. Adding a heater to your existing bath is also a great option, or even putting out a shallow pan of warm water several times a day. Hey, if the snow’s that bad you’re probably home from work anyway, right?
Please help birds through tough winter weather by offering food, water and shelter, their lives depend on it!
Not only do natural food sources dwindle, but shallow pools and ponds tend to freeze, leaving birds and other wildlife without a consistent water source. Some folks believe birds can just east snow to get water, and in part that’s true. But it takes them a tremendous amount of energy to actually convert the snow to water. Energy that could be better spent on staying warm. Birds, like other beings, obtain energy from calories, so this process ends up being a terrible waste of precious calories for wild birds’ metabolisms.
Offering heated bird baths will encourage some species to over-winter in your yard and immediate area. Bluebirds especially, will stick around if heated bath water is readily available. Ground baths are also a great idea, because birds’ naturally bathe at ground level. These heated bird baths can also be quite enticing for other wildlife too.
Innovative birdbath heaters will allow you to convert your favorite bath into a heated one. New materials that are safe for all types of birdbaths make it simple to do so. Even resin, or plastic baths can utilize these heaters, there are heated mats, resin-cased heaters and the very cool Heated Rock.
This winter, consider adding heated bird baths to your landscape, or purchasing a bath heater for your existing birdbath. You’ll help feathered friends thrive and flourish during frigid temperatures, plus catch some quality bird-watching time!
With the end of summer, so comes the migration south for many song birds. A few favorites may stick around if their habitat suits them well enough. Bluebirds in my yard for example, surprised me last year when they decided to over-winter. Probably because of the juicy live worms they were offered everyday, and mostly because of the heated bird baths in the yard. This season we had three successful broods!
Heated bird baths really are important to wild birds. As temperatures drop and local water sources tend to freeze over, the baths offer an oasis for drinking and bathing. Clean feathers are a must for birds to stay warm too. When you see them “puff up” it is a mechanism they use to retain body heat. Some folks believe birds can eat snow for water, and they can, but it takes them many calories to convert the snow to water. And these are precious calories needed to just stay warm.
If you already have a favorite bath, please don’t empty it and turn it over for winter. Consider adding a heater or deicer to it for the birds. They need fresh water in winter just as much as hot summer months. Many of the newer heaters are safe for use with all bird baths, so there’s no worry about having a metal heater in a plastic or resin bath. The Heated Rock for example, is an innovative new heater that’s safe with all types of baths. Mat-type heaters can be used with all baths as well.
Help birds to thrive and flourish this winter by offering a consistent fresh water source with heated bird baths. You never know who may surprise you and decide to stick around?