7 Ingenious Ways Birds Stay Warm
Have You Ever Wondered How Our Little Backyard Birds Stay Warm?
My winter backyard bird gang consists of nuthatches, blue jays, juncos, hairy, downy and yellow-bellied woodpeckers, chickadees, cardinals, titmice, gold and green finches. They are most active at the feeders just before a rain or snowstorm is due to hit. In fact, they are so accurate I can tell what the next 24 to 48 hours holds weatherwise if I observe the action at the bird feeders!
How do backyard birds stay warm in stormy cold weather? With Mother Nature’s help, these ingenious and resourceful visitors have devised 7+ different ways to do just that.
- They build up a fatty layer for extra protection against heat loss in colder months. That’s why I provide them with suet cakes once the weather turns cold. That way they can store up a valuable heat source. Adding suet feeders will definitely provide insurance against the coldest weather.
- Did you know that birds grow more feathers in the fall to provide extra insulation? It’s just like a dog acquiring its winter coat to help ward off the cold. Also, birds’ feathers are coated with a natural oil, which makes them waterproof and helps to retain precious heat.
I like to keep my birdhouses up all year long so that on the coldest nights my birds can huddle together in the bird houses for warmth. Roosting boxes are more efficient than bird houses for this purpose because the hole is located at the bottom of the box. That way, since heat rises, the birds’ body heat does not escape and thus they stay warmer
If you see one of your backyard birds shivering, you might have the tendency to feel sorry for it. But shivering is just another way to produce heat. That motion increases their metabolism, which generates a short burst of heat. Ingenious, aren’t they!
I’m sure you’ve noticed birds fluffing their feathers. Well, they do this in order to create air pockets, which also serve to hold in the heat. If you’ve ever seen a little plumped up chickadee sitting on the snow, that’s what it’s doing.
When it’s sunny, little birds use the sunshine just as we do. It feels so good to have the sun on your back, doesn’t it? It seems to warm you right to your core. Birds position their backs towards the sun for maximum heat absorption. They will also spread their wings and tails to create a larger surface, which in turn will maximize the heat retention.
Over millennia birds have evolved specialized scales on their legs and feet to minimize heat loss. They can also constrict blood flow to those extremities to accomplish the same thing. Still another way to keep legs and feet warm is to tuck them up under their chest feathers one at a time. I’ve seen my chickadees do that many times in the winter.
A bird’s body temperature averages 105 degrees. So they start out warmer than a human, which is also helpful when the winter storms are howling outside.
Next time there’s a blizzard, be happy you have a nice warm house with a furnace. And also be happy you’re not a bird! But don’t feel sorry for them. They have adapted in their own ways with the most efficiency for staying warm even on the coldest days.
Very Best Easy Peanut Butter Bird Treat
- Prep. Time: 5 min.
- Cooking Time: 15 min.
- Total Time: 20 min.
- ½ c. crunchy or smooth peanut butter
- ½ c. shortening
- ½ c. flour
- 1-½ c. cornmeal
- ½ c. cracked corn
- ½ c. black oil sunflower seeds
- ¼ c. raisins or currants
- ¼ c. dried apricots, apples or cherries
Clean plastic containers for molds. I use yogurt cups, but any small plastic container will do just fine.
In a saucepan over low heat, melt peanut butter and shortening. Stir in cornmeal and flour until combined. Add cracked corn and sunflower seeds. Remove from heat and mix in raisins, currants, and dried fruit.
Transfer to plastic cups and allow to cool. Refrigerate overnight and serve to your hungry, grateful birds! These treats can be added to tray or fly-through feeders, or placed on a flat surface so the birds can nibble at their leisure!
This recipe was inspired by Laura Klappenbach’s ‘Simply Nutty Bird Treat’ at About.com Guide
More Information from Grandma Pearl about Backyard Birds & Bird Houses
- Bird Feeder | Bird Houses | Bird House
Handcrafted rustic barn wood bird houses and bird feeders are functional and decorative, and will enhance your yard and garden, or primitive country home décor. Also, suet and suet holders, plus lots of information on backyard birds.