Saturday, 9 February 2013

Keep Warm Your Birds in Winter Season

How Do Birds Keep Warm In Winter

Author: Cassidy Frost
how to warm bird in cold weather
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When the weather is frightful the fire is delightful.  But unfortunately, the birds and animals out in the cold don't have an electric blanket to keep them warm on cold wintery days and nights.  So how do birds keep warm without snow boots, scarves and portable space heaters? The first and most obvious way they stay warm is their feathers.  Feathers repel water and are efficient at insulating their bodies.  By fluffing their feathers they create little air pockets that trap heat and reduce heat loss.  This is the very reason why down coats are so cozy in cold weather.
Typically larger birds deal better in cold weather than smaller birds.  Have you ever noticed that birds who winter in cold regions are generally larger than their relatives who live in warmer regions.  Survival for smaller birds is a  harder job than for larger birds.  As they loose heat fairly quickly, and relative to their size, they need to eat more food to keep warm.  They also usually eat smaller food items, which can be much harder to find when buried in the snow after a snow storm.  Like humans,  birds need to increase their food intake during a cold temperatures, because it takes more energy to keep warm in the cold.  Some prepare for winter by storing food in the warmer months, to save food for the more food scarce months.  This is called caching.  Unfortunately, other animals and birds can also find these hidden away stores.  Birds may also find dormant insects in crevices of tree bark.  They can also find berries on juniper and bayberry, and seeds left on dead plants.

Survival depends on how well they can conserve energy during cold nights, and winter storms.  Hummingbirds, night hawks and their relatives, and swifts) will go into a torpor state (also called temporary hibernation) to help them conserve energy.  When they are in the torpor state they reduce their body temperature along with their  metabolism rate.  This helps them save the energy that it would take to maintain normal body temperature.  They will go into this torpor state often at night when it is very cold, or when food is scarce.  They also reduce heat loss by burying feet and beaks in their feathers to help keep them warm.  That is why birds often sleep standing on one foot while the other foot is held tightly up against their body.  They also have an impressive network of blood vessels in their legs and feet that help minimize heat loss.  Even with these energy conserving abilities, cold nights and the scarcity of food can prove fatal for birds.
Many birds bed down in dense thickets.  Thick tangles of vegetation help protect them from the elements, and pouring rain.  Evergreen trees are also a refuge for them.  If you want to make your yard bird friendly, consider planting a few evergreen trees and shrubs.  Grouse and other birds also bury down in snowdrifts.  Snow insulates them from the colder outside temperatures.  Chickadees and other social species of birds stay warm by roosting with other birds.  You can help your feathered friends by placing nesting boxes around your yard.  Be sure to clean out the birdhouse after breeding season.  Clear them of debris and nests, so that there will be room for them to roost in the winter.

Animals are amazingly well equipped to deal with the temperatures of the regions in which they live.  But winter is a hard time for birds and animals.  By placing a birdfeeder, heated birdbath, birdhouses or nesting boxes in your yard,  will help alleviate some of the hardships for the critters who don't have a cozy home and fire to curl up in.  Note, if you are looking to attract birds for the winter season, be sure to place your feeder out in August or September. Or you may miss your opportunity to attract them to your yard.   Good food put in your feeders are:  black sunflower seeds, Nyjer thistle seed, or Suet.
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About the Author
Cassidy Frost  offers a wide variety of  stylish garden decor, from practical to whimsical.  If you are looking for wind chimes, garden flags, birdhouses, and birdbaths, we have what you are looking for!   Join us and start turning your backyard into your own personal Eden!