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!