It’s that time of the year when our birds struggle to find natural food sources because the ground is a blanket of snow or frozen, the berry bushes are depleted of fruits & insects are few & far between.
Birds adapt in so many ways to the changing seasons & winter is probably the hardest of all for them. We have toasty warm homes & stodgy food to see us over the cold months but birds depend highly on our gardens as a frequent source of food & water.
Many birds build up fat reserves in the autumn by gorging on abundant food sources, giving them an extra fatty layer before the winter arrives. In these winter months many birds will enter torpor, to conserve energy during the cold winter nights. This is a state of reduced metabolism when the body temperature is lowered by as much as 50 degrees, therefore requiring fewer calories to maintain the proper heat.
Birds can grow extra feathers to give them thicker protection & the oil that coat these feathers provides insulation as well as waterproofing. Birds can also reduce heat loss by constricting the blood flow from their legs & feet separately from their bodies.
While watching birds in your garden you may notice that they’ll fluff out their feathers, this creates air pockets to add extra insulation in cold temperatures. Also birds tuck in one leg or crouch on both to cover them from the cold. Their bills are also tucked into their shoulder feathers for protection & breathe in air from their body heat.
While the birds have their own ways of keeping themselves warm & safe, we can help in other ways by providing the best winter foods, water & shelter to aid them over the harsh winter months.
In this section I will be showing you ways in which we can help our feathered friends throughout the seasons, from foods to nesting boxes & everything in between.