WORDS ON BIRDS
Help Birds To Survive Winter Storms
January 07, 2017
by Steve Grinley
storms can be a struggle for many of us. They can be particularly
hard on the birds. The birds seem to know when a storm is
approaching, as they flock to the feeders in the days before the
storm, fueling up to sustain themselves through the worst of it. It
seems that they can predict the weather with more certainty than our
best-trained meteorologists. We have tens of goldfinches, occupying
every available perch on our thistle feeders, devouring the Nyger
seed to help them survive impending storms.
Birds are supplementing their natural food with the seed and suet at
your feeders. The availability of feeder-food makes it a bit easier
for them, especially right after a storm when natural seed supplies
may be covered with snow or caked in ice. So it is important to go
out right after a storm and clear the feeders of snow and ice.
Blizzard conditions that hit us with wet, sticky snow that is blown
horizontally can cover feeders or plug feeding ports. There are few
feeders that doní require some clearing after a New England storm.
Scrape away all snow and ice,
especially from the perch areas and around the feeding ports on the
feeders. I often have to scrape the snow off the suet and hanging
seed cakes. Sometimes you have to repeat the process during and
after a storm. The reward comes when you look out and discover a
common redpoll or pine siskin has joined the flock of goldfinches at
the thistle feeders.
In addition to
seed and suet, you can put out some fruit for the fruit eating birds
including robins, bluebirds and mockingbirds. If you have plantings
in your yard such as crab apple, winterberry or holly, cedar
waxwings, wintering hermit thrushes or catbirds might also feast on
the natural fruit. In recent years, area residents have had western
tanager and yellow-breasted chat eating apple, oranges and sunflower
hearts at their feeders.
have a heated bird bath, many birds will flock to it as fresh water
becomes more unavailable with these frigid temperatures. Even birds
that donít normally visit feeders may take advantage of the open
water. Many customers have told me that bluebirds show up at their
birdbath after a winter storm.
the height of the storm, and during these long, cold New England
nights, birds seek shelter wherever they can find it. Some choose
thickets, brush piles, evergreens, rhododendron, or other sheltering
shrubs and trees. Some will crowd into cavities in trees, building
and other structures to keep warm. You can help the birds by putting
up roosting boxes or roosting pockets where birds can huddle to keep
warm. Birds also use nesting boxes for roosting, so if you have bird
houses around your yard that you have left up for the winter, these
will provide added shelter at night for the birds. You can add
grasses, cotton, or dryer lint to the boxes to add further
insulation for the birds.
Newbury resident use to have a bird-cam in one of her bluebird
nesting boxes which she monitored during the spring and summer. She
kept the nesting box up during the winter but had rolled up the cord
from the camera to store for the winter. One winter day, she saw the
bluebirds checking out the box week and she decided to hook the
camera back up to her TV. Because the camera had infrared, she could
watch what transpired in the house at night.
The first night, five bluebirds were jockeying for position in the
bird house, fighting one another until two got expelled. She watched
the remaining three bluebirds hunker down for the night. She watched
the next night and all five bluebirds had apparently come to terms,
all huddling together in the one box. They must have figured out
that the body heat of five was better than three!
Bird Watcher's Supply & Gift
Route 1 Traffic Circle
192C State Street
Newburyport, MA 01950
years of service to the birding community!
Like us on Facebook!
Index of Recent