How do birds make it through our Canadian winter on days when even we have a hard time being outside?
Just like people, birds will shiver to stay warm, using the rapid tightening and expansion of the muscles to heat the body. They also fluff their feathers, trapping air that will gradually warm the body. It is important for them to stay dry because wet feathers make it more difficult to keep warm. Ducks are used to being in the water and have adequate oils to protect them.
Depending on the species, birds may also huddle together for additional warmth. Doves are certainly inclined to do so. Many birds will use the cover offered by dense vegetation such as cedars, buildings, and a few, such as Starlings and pigeons, will even sit beside exhaust vents on rooves. Provided their fat level is sufficiently high, these actions will be adequate to keep them comfortable, and at the very least alive.
Your role is to keep feeding, especially the high fat nutrition in black oil sunflower seeds and suets.
By Brian Morin
Publisher of Ontario Birding News