Winter Birds

Written by wildbirds  |  07. February 2001

Brrr. Here it is Februaury & time to think of the freezing cold. How do birds handle it, anyway?? Well, it turns out that most are adapted quite well. Only tropical birds such as Parrots would do poorly in a Long Island winter. When you hear of a Down comforter or jacket, the "down" refers to feathers taken from birds! Usually the best feathers come from Eider, which is a kind of sea duck that lives in Veerrry cold water, so the feathers near its body are great insulation. Feathers in general are good insulation, and the average backyard bird can withstand the cold quite well. In fact, the reason most birds migrate is because of changes in the availability of FOOD, not the cold. A swallow that eats flying insects won't last long in February, so they all fly south to where swallows can find food. Still, imagine, a tiny chickadee sitting on a branch in the snow, or even an ice storm! How can that tiny thing survive? Well, first, they don't sit still long. They move just about constantly, if they can't find shelter, and that motion insures they won't freeze. But, they do have to eat one and a half times as much on cold day as a warm one to keep the same temperature! That's why we feed birds in winter, to help them through the cold. Later I'll tell you why we should feed them in the summer, too! Ritch

Copyright © 1996-2021 LongIsland.com & Long Island Media, Inc. All rights reserved.