Now that we’re into the cold months of winter you might be noticing small flocks of chickadees, goldfinches and cardinals in trees or shrubs, or arriving at your feeders in larger than normal groups.  There were 8 male cardinals in a small tree in the field behind our house today with some females too!

During the winter these birds will flock together for a few reasons. Safety is one of them.  Circling hawks or prowling cats are easier to spot and escape from when birds warn each other with distress calls.  When the weather is cold, birds will huddle together for warmth.  Last, but not least, you will see them together where food is plentiful.  

We can help birds by offering food, water and shelter.  Seeds that are high in oils and fat such as peanuts and sunflower seeds are a great choice to put in your feeders.  Suet is also high in calories and gives them the energy they need to get through cold winter days and nights.  Birds will feel welcome at a variety of feeders including hopper, fly-through, cylindrical, suet, and ground feeders.

Water is also essential for our feathered friends.  Heated bird baths are an option as well as bird bath de-icers.  These are all thermostatically controlled, so they don’t come on when the temperatures are above 0 degrees celsius, or 32 degrees fahrenheit.  Here’s a tip for you if you think your bird bath de-icer is defective.  Put it in a freezer for 2 hours.  Remove from the freezer and immediately plug it in, it should start to feel warm to the touch.  If you plug it in before freezing it, it won’t produce heat as the temperature in your home is warm.  If you don’t have an outdoor electrical outlet, place your birdbath in a sunny location for a few hours a day.

Shelter is also for birds.  If you live in a mature neighbourhood with trees, shrubs and hedges, birds can take shelter there.  If you’re in a new area, you can offer roosting pockets or boxes.

Birds bring life and welcome activity to our yards providing us with pleasure and sometimes amusement as we wait for warmer months to arrive.  Watch for different species gathering together this winter.  Once spring comes, they will separate to defend nesting grounds.  For now, they’re one big happy family!

Happy Birding!

Jane Paradis

Urban Nature Store Brand Ambassador

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