Bird Feeding with George Petrides
Tips on attracting and feeding backyard birds.
Sharing ideas and topics related to feeding and attracting wild birds in your backyard.
Many birds, such as chickadees, molt at the end of summer. They may enter the winter with as much as 50% more plumage than at any other time of the year. They also have the ability to fluff their feathers up to increase the thickness of their insulation. However, long winter nights pose an additional problem for chickadees: fewer hours of daylight mean less time for foraging. To compensate, chickadees begin and end their foraging times at lower-light levels and intensify their use of reliably stocked feeders, so that their reduced foraging time is well spent.
In fact, various studies have found that many chickadees that had access to feeders survived the winter. The difference in survival rates was most dramatic during months when temperatures dipped below zero.
This is a common concern, often based on stories that have circulated for so long, they are accepted as fact. The idea that birds’ feet could freeze to metal perches is probably based on the fact that human skin or eyeballs (ouch!) will stick to sub-freezing metal.
However, birds’ feet – unlike human skin – do not contain seat glands. Their feet have no outside moisture and are perfectly dry. Take a look around this winter – you’ll notice birds safely perching on wire fences, etc. even during the coldest temperatures. So don’t worry about your metal feeder perches.
Your birds need water as much in winter as any other time of year, and their need is greatest when natural sources of water are frozen. By keeping your birdbath filled with clean, fresh water in the winter, you provide a means for your birds to keep their feathers clean. Bathing in winter is necessary for them to maintain the insulation value their feathers.
Do you place your birdbath dish upside down each fall to avoid freeze damage to the bowl? You might consider investing in a thermostat-controlled deicer or a heated birdbath or insert. These nifty accessories make terrific gifts for the birder you think has everything.
...the term “bird-watching” was coined in its modern use by environmentalist and bird-watcher, Edmund Selous, in 1902. He (1957 - 1934) was a British ornithologist and writer (see this cover of one of his books). He used this new term to distinguish the new type of observational bird-watchers he supported from the old shoot-and-draw type, represented by his brother, the then-famous big-game hunter Frederick Selous.
Selous started as a conventional naturalist, but developed a hatred of the killing of animals for scientific study and was a pioneer of bird-watching as a method of scientific study. He was a strong proponent of non-destructive bird-study as opposed to the collection of skins and eggs.
Our beautiful planet is home to billions of birds so their global mass/weight cannot be ignored – right?
Locally, many of these birds take off at sunrise, lightening the weight of our planet by billions of pounds as they go airborne.
At the same time, birds across the world are landing at local sunset.
These continuously opposing forces are thought by some to keep the Earth spinning on its axis – right?
OK, I admit that there could be a flaw in the science here but the landing/take off image is still a powerful one.