Certain needs must be met to for any living creature to survive: food, water, and shelter from inclement weather and predators. These elements work together to form a critter’s habitat. No matter how ideal a habitat may appear to be in one or more of these areas, it will not be used by wildlife if even one of them is missing.
If you want to support birds in your garden, it’s important to provide for all of their needs. Most of our recent blog posts have offered various ways to do this, but it becomes increasingly important with the additional challenges that winter brings: scarcer food resources, colder temperatures, and a lack of open water.
Conserving energy is essential for birds to survive the winter. Here are a few things you can do to help.
Using high-quality foods that are high in fat and protein in your feeders offers birds more energy, and hulled seeds save them the effort of breaking shells and husks to access food. This combination maximizes caloric intake while minimizing caloric expenditure.
It takes a lot of energy for birds to melt eaten snow to meet their water needs. Setting up a heated bird bath provides an open water source for them. This can be a real draw for birds. Our customers have reported a lot more bird activity at heated birdbaths, so you can enhance your birdwatching experience while helping them out. Check out Garden Gate episode 144 (Birdbaths) to learn more.
Our body temperature is 37C. Birds run closer to 40C, and they require more energy than we do to keep warm. Without the luxury of central heating, they need to seek shelter to stay warm. Many birds roost (sleep/spend their quiet time) sitting close to each other near the trunks of coniferous trees, where they are protected from wind and snow. When things get extremely cold (-30C), some Black-capped Chickadees burrow into the snow overnight!
We carry a bluebird house that can be easily converted into a roosting box for winter shelter. This box is made by artist, Gary Cowie, of Animal House Creations in Lakefield. Learn more on Garden Gate episode 132 (Cold winter/Warm birds).