Did you know that birds need access to fresh, unfrozen water to stay hydrated & warm in the winter?
There are different foods for different birds. Chickadees prefer nuts. Cardinals eat seeds. Bluebirds love mealworms. The Baltimore Oriole likes fruit, while the Downy Woodpecker seeks suet.
But, every species of bird is attracted to fresh, clean water.
Water is a vital element to their survival through the winter, especially in our changing climate. Though food becomes scarce in the winter months, dehydration is more of a threat than starvation because natural water sources begin to change, evaporate & freeze during this time.
Easy access to fresh, unfrozen water not only allows birds to rehydrate, it also helps keep them warm. “How,” You might ask?
Birds need water to bathe and to preen. You have seen the birds dip and shake in the water, then fluff themselves up and use their beak to groom their feathers. This is called preening. Birds preen themselves often in order to remove dirt, dust & parasites. During this process, they secrete an oil from their uropygial gland found near the base of their tail. They spread this oil over their feathers in order to keep them flexible & waterproof. Then they align their feathers properly, which in turn improves their ability to insulate their bodies during cold weather.
Here is a fun video of the birds enjoying the bird bath in warmer months. Watch for a surprise guest at the end.
You can attract & enjoy watching birds in your back yard by providing fresh water in a shallow dish on your deck or on the ground. Add clean water as necessary. Remember, never use chemicals in your birdbaths. Simply empty them and clean them out with a clean brush when necessary. Do not use soap.
You can also use a weather-proof birdbath such as plastic or resin which will not crack as the water freezes and thaws through the winter. To make your job easier, consider purchasing a solar or electric water heater made especially for shallow birdbaths.
In these pictures, I have a floating pond heater which keeps creates an ice-free puddle right beside the island I created for the sole purpose of providing fresh water to birds and wildlife. Not only do we get to enjoy the many species of birds who stop by, but we also get to see the squirrels enjoy a quick drink as they run up & down a nearby tree while making their nest.
Bird & nature watching is a fun activity for the whole family anytime of the year.
Please tell us below, What fresh water sources do you or will you provide this winter?