Sunday, January 15, 2012

Birds In Winter

Birds at feeder in winter
Wow- We finally got some winter last week. As much as I hate shoveling snow it’s nice to get some insulating cover over our plants.. It really helps to protect them from the cold, drying winds and keeps moisture from evaporating from the ground. This is especially important for the broadleaf evergreens that don’t go dormant. If they dry out they will drop the buds that they set last fall and you won’t get any blooms this spring. I noticed that my climbing rose has finally dropped all its leaves and is fully dormant. It is now safe to prune as are any other trees or shrubs that need it.

There are lots of birds that stay around here over the winter including sparrows, nuthatches, chickadees, cardinals, juncos and even gold finches. Most people are surprised that the gold finches don’t migrate since they don’t see them. Actually you do see them its just that their plumage has turned from gold to brown, the better to blend into the environment and avoid predators.

Heated Bird Bath
If you are feeding the birds, make sure you are using a bird feed that is high in energy seeds. These would be black oil sunflower seeds and peanuts. Nyger thistle is also high in energy. Black oil sunflower also has thinner hulls and is easier for the birds to crack open in addition to being high in oil. Suet cakes are also very high in energy and good to put out in winter. 

Bird Bath Heater
With this cold weather, any open water has probably frozen over and is not available to the birds. In addition to feeding the birds, you should also put out fresh water.  My neighbor Dave has a bird bath out during the summer and the birds use it all summer long.  Water is equally important in the winter however.  Using a heated bird bath or a bird bath heater will keep the water from freezing in the bird bath.  The bird bath heater sits in your birdbath while the heated bird bath is all one unit-- heater and bird bath combined.