PROVIDING WATER FOR BIRDS IN THE WINTER

This is a good time to think about how to provide water for your backyard feathered friends during the upcoming cold winter months.  Birds find it very challenging to find open water for drinking and bathing in the winter as many natural sources like ponds and streams freeze.

Adding a heated birdbath to your yard is a great idea.  If you already have a birdbath that can be left out in the winter, consider adding a birdbath heater.  Heated birdbaths and birdbath heaters do not make the water hot, but stop the water from freezing. Once the temperature dips below -23 degrees celsius you may see ice begin to form around the inside edges of the birdbath, yet there should still be open water in the centre.  Water will also evaporate faster in heated birdbaths, so be sure to keep your eye on it. I keep a 2 litre soda pop bottle by the back door to refill mine. Placing your birdbath in a nice sunny area will make it attractive to the birds. If you feel that your birdbath is too deep, place some stones in the bath so the birds don’t have to immerse themselves if they’re just there to have a drink.  It’s also important to keep the birdbath clean to make sure our birds stay healthy.

Some of you may not have access to an outdoor electrical outlet.  If this is the case, you can still provide water by placing large saucers, possibly planter bases, in sunny locations and refill them with water a couple of times a day.  No need to use hot water as it freezes faster than cold water. Many people think that birds should be fine with eating snow, but this expends energy which they need to stay warm.  Bathing is important in the winter. Birds will bath as a way to preen their feathers. This helps their feathers stay positioned which avoids gaps.  Feather gaps can cause a loss of body heat.

You will be able to observe different ways that birds stay warm over the coming months.  You may see birds sunning themselves by turning their backs to the sun. This warms their feathers and heats their bodies.   Birds often look fatter in the winter. Feather fluffing is what causes this. Down feathers are puffed out to make air pockets which will help hold body heat.  Birds will also tuck one leg close to their body, or tuck their bills into their shoulders.

We offer many different models of heated birdbaths including deck mount, ground mount, and free standing.  If cats frequent your yard, a ground mount style is not the one for you. You will need an outdoor extension cord to run to your power outlet.  A Cord Connect can be used to lock the cords together and keep the connection dry.  If you would like to provide water for your birds this winter, please come and visit one of our store locations, we’d be happy to help you!

Happy Birding!

Author – Jane Paradis

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