As the last pale rays of the winter sun disappear, the activity at our birdfeeders comes to an abrupt halt. Birds head for a perch in leafy bushes, evergreens, vines or dense brush piles for the night. Starlings and pigeons can roost under bridges. Ducks often sleep while floating. Woodpeckers can hook their claws into tree bark or retreat into holes to sleep. Chickadees and titmice also roost in tree holes, bird houses or roosting pockets for safety and warmth.
When birds are tired, they scrunch down to sleep because that automatically makes the toes grip their perch and stay locked. In the legs of most tree-dwelling birds, the tendons from certain muscles extend down the leg behind the ankle to attach to the tips of the toes and when their knees bend, the tendons are pulled taut, making the toes on their feet clench. This keeps the bird from falling off while it sleeps! To unlock this tight grip, the bird needs only to stand up straight.
Surviving Bitter Cold Nights
Warm shelters help, but when the temperature drops below zero, sleeping birds need bellies full of high calorie foods to keep their little bodies warm. So remember on bitter cold days, fill your feeders full of seed. Also, those little birds wake up hungry! Oil sunflower, safflower, nuts, suet, and thistle seed are the highest calorie foods you can provide.