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.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Why wild birds don't freeze to death

While the female Northern Cardinal is less colorful than the male,
her warm colors are still beautiful.
How to find food, water, shelter and avoid predators are essential to birds' survival.

Though food is scarce in winter, dehydration can be the biggest threat to birds. While birds can eat snow, it takes much more energy for for them to warm it to body temperature than it does for them to drink unfrozen water.

Water is not only important for hydration, but it also helps birds preen their feathers. During those freezing nights, they fluff their feathers to trap heat like a down jacket. Without water to conduct a proper preening, birds' feathers won't stay positioned. When feathers are in alignment, cold air can't pierce through to the skin, and make them lose body heat and freeze to death.

You can use a heated bird bath or add a heater to your existing plastic, metal or stone bird bath to make some water available even on the coldest day and attract birds that may not visit feeders very often. Heated birdbaths do not create warm water, but just keep it from completely freezing.

Related Articles:
What to feed birds in the winter http://bit.ly/tfT7Ca
Where Do Birds Go At Night? http://bit.ly/uoQOBw
Help Birds Beat Their Winter Woes http://goo.gl/ZlDTw
Are there heated birdbaths that are solar? http://bit.ly/tnTrK4


Amy said...

I put a heated birdbath on our patio but the birds seem to have zero interest in it - I've scattered seed around to help them realize it's available and I put a water wiggler in it, but no interest so far.

Wild Birds Unlimited Mid-Michigan said...

That is normal. They might find it in minutes or months. I hear that all the time. Just keep the bath clean and full of fresh water and they will eventually come to appreciate your efforts.