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.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Feather coats are a must for birds

While birds are equipped to withstand most winter weather, they obviously can't turn up the
thermostat, throw on an extra blanket or whip up a warm cup of cocoa. 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.

The Importance of Keeping Your Feeders Full
Food is the most essential element, providing birds with the energy, stamina and nutrition they need. To stay warm, birds will expend energy very quickly, some losing up to 10% of their body weight on extremely cold nights, and this fat must be replaced every day.

The Importance of a Reliable, Open Source of Water
Birds continue to need a source of water for drinking to maintain their metabolism during dry, cold weather. Clean feathers help birds stay warm, and a bird bath is often the only way for some birds to drink and keep their feathers in top condition when it’s cold.

Research has shown that a chickadee with well-maintained feathers can create a 70° (F) layer of insulation between the outside air and its skin.

Protection from the Elements
Birds need a place to escape the elements. Installing roosting and nesting boxes in your backyard can give birds a warm, dry place to stay overnight. Shelter is also necessary for protection against natural predators, such as birds of prey and cats.

Help Chickadees Feel at Home
Chickadees are among the easiest birds to lure into your yard, especially during winter. Here are a few tips to help attract them:
1. Chickadee food: Put out fresh sunflower seeds, peanuts, seed cylinders or suets.
2. Chickadee feeder: Almost any bird feeder will attract chickadees if it offers good food. I like to use the no-mess blend which has sunflower chips and peanut halves.
3. Chickadee habitat: Chickadees like natural cover near feeders to pop into and avoid predators or harsh weather.
4. Chickadee house: Roosting pockets or a small birdhouse with a 1 1/4-inch entrance hole, placed in heavy natural cover, will provide a winter shelter for the birds.