About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Where birds go when it storms

Surviving Winter, the Bird Way
Just as we rely on coats, hats and mittens to keep us warm in the face of winter's icy grip, birds employ a number of methods to survive the adversity of winter.

Most birds will adjust their feathers to create air pockets that will help them keep warm. You will often notice the birds look fatter or "puffed up" during cold weather. This is because the birds are fluffing up their feathers; the more air space, the better the insulation.

Food is the most essential element, providing birds with the energy, stamina and nutrition they need. An ample supply of high-calorie foods such as black oil sunflower, nuts and suet is crucial to a bird's survival.

We can play a vital role, as feeding the birds becomes critical when extremely cold conditions occur. At these times, a supply of food can mean the difference between life and death for a bird.

Staying warm is not all about food and feathers though. Some birds perch on one leg at a time, drawing the free leg to their breast for warmth. Most birds will shiver for short term adjustments to the cold. Shivering converts muscular energy into heat for the short term, but the energy must be replenished shortly thereafter.

While birds are equipped to withstand most winter weather, survival can be made easier by also providing a heated bird bath for an open source of water. Water is one of the most important necessities that birds need year-round. Most people understand the importance of water for drinking but many do not realize just how important it is in bathing for birds. Because feathers are critical for flight and insulation, birds keep them well-maintained. A good part of a bird's day is spent just cleaning and grooming its feathers by bathing, scratching, and preening.

Finally when bad weather hits, birds will find protection from the elements in compact bushes, evergreens and in other natural plant cover. Some can even make little snow caves, while others will use bird houses or roosting pockets.

Stop by Wild Birds Unlimited today and let us show you which high-energy foods, shelters, and baths are available to help your birds brave the cold snap!

Related Articles:
Can birds predict the weather?
How to Prepare Your Yard for Winter Birdwatching
Tips on How to Keep Your Seed Dry

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