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Home Improvement

Winter Home Improvement for Birds0

Assisting the backyard bird population in surviving the elements during the colder months is an enjoyable winter pastime. Placing feeders close to the house allows for easy viewing.

But according to the National Audubon Society bird baths attract more birds to the backyard than feeders.

During the warmest months of the year, bird baths help birds keep cool. In winter they help birds keep warm. In fact, birds actually increase their bathing in winter which helps them preen feathers to align and position them to get rid of gaps in insulation.

Also, dehydration in winter can be a greater threat to these feathered friends than limited food sources. Yes birds can eat snow, but it requires more energy than drinking unfrozen water – extra energy that birds can’t afford when battling the elements of a winter, especially like the one we’re having this year here in the Northeast.

Providing water for backyard birds in the winter is as easy as adding a heating element to your bird bath. We use a large, shallow plastic saucer with a 200-watt immersion heating element, or de-icer. The heating element plugs into an outdoor electrical outlet and has a thermostat that regulates the water temperature keeping it ice free.

This winter we have a male Carolina Wren that runs the back porch feeding center like a brigadier general. He perches on the edge of the bird bath saucer dipping in his beak between chatter and song. Then he hops down between Juncos and Chickadees with running comments only to fly back up to the bird bath again where he continues his command. For him, the bird bath is his. And his antics are a welcome distraction this winter offsetting any minimal increase in the electric bill to keep his bird bath ice free.

 

text and bird photos by Ann D. Travers

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