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Gardening For Wildlife, Issue #002-winter care for birds
February 05, 2007
BABY IT'S COLD OUTSIDE.
The blast of Arctic air that is hitting many of us turned on the Big Lake Snow machine.
Toss in high winds and we had a good old fashion "BLIZZARD."
We where blessed with any where from 2 to 3 feet of blowing and drifting snow with single and below zero temperatures.
The Great Lakes can kick up some serious snow, but they keep us about 10 degrees Fahrenheit warmer then the folks West of the Lakes.
I don't know if you would call it a trade off or not.
Either way, it was something we haven't had here for a few years.
It was almost a full time job keeping up with the birds feeders and feeding areas.
Yes, keeping things filled and cleaned for my guys.
Not to mention keeping an area clean for little dogs to do their thing.
It was almost comical watching ducks waddle or almost swim through the snow to reach the cracked corn under the spruce trees.
There were times when the birds were so thick it almost looked like a collage with the mixed shapes and colors.
Reds, blues, grays, browns, olive green, charcoal, tan and black all mixed into the same feeding areas.
Birds that may chase away another were all co-operating for a change.
When the weather turns cold and the landscape becomes white with snow, it is more important to keep up with the feeding stations.
Some birds rely on us when nature turns ugly.
Smaller birds use more energy to maintain body heat.
The smaller a bird is, like chickadees and goldfinches, the faster the heart beats to circulate blood.
The faster a heart beats, the more energy that is being used.
Be sure to offer feed and seed that is high in protein and oils.
Peanuts, sunflower seed and suet comes to mind.
Try to offer water for your feathered friends.
If the birds must eat snow to get a drink, this too forces the bird to use more energy to bring its body temperature back up.
Blood circulation in a bird's feet and legs come to a crawl during cold winter months. This is another way a bird saves energy and body heat. The complete opposite happens in the heat of summer.
A bird's feet and legs are scaly. Scales mean no sweat glands and no loss of moisture and heat.
With legs and feet that adjust to the temperatures around them, a bird wont stick to perches or bird baths.
Do you ever notice how snow can accumulate on a bird while it is sitting there?
Birds fluff up their feathers creating a barrier or air pocket.
This air pocket sits between the main feathers and the oily down feathers
Oily down feathers?
Yep, birds are covered with downy feathers that also work as an insulator and a water repellant.
Now with all these neat devices "Nature" has provided for birds, there is still a matter of survival of the fittest.
With the huge loss of habitats and natural foods, birds and other wildlife do struggle with the elements.
If nature was still able to provide, there would be less need for us to help them out.
Still, survival of the fittest may mean "ONE DAY or ONE NIGHT".
We may be the difference for that one day or night.
Backyard birding becomes a responsibility.
More then just the occasional filling of the feeder and birdbath.
It means being willing to walk outside and clean the snow off a feeder or filling it up when you really don't feel like it.
It means packing down the snow for the ground scratching birds.
Keeping fresh water for them to drink and bathe.
Protection from the elements in the form of shrubs and trees or something artificial.
Simple tasks like these allow me to have more choice birds more often.
Yes, several people around me feed birds, but that aren't as willing to take care of things.
The birds get to know this and know where and when to stop by.
If you are gone much of the day, you can train your birds to come by when you want them to.
By offering so much food at a certain time of the day, everyday.
Birds will figure this out and visit you when you want them to.
Birds are creatures of habit and you'll assist in creating a habit that benefits you and your birds.
I know, I know..............................
Not all of you live in the snow belt.
Are you one that is wearing shorts today?
Maybe having a rough time with sunny skies?
Well, you too can train birds to your yard.
On a sad side of the news.
The killer tornadoes that hit Florida this past week also killed 18 Whooping cranes.
Included among the cranes was the ultra light class of 2006.
You can read more in the journals.
Gardening For Wildlife.
I think it would be neat for all of us to see pictures of birds and wildlife we normally wouldn't see.
Keep this in mind and start rounding up some of your best shots.
It is totally up to you id you want your name posted with the picture.
Be sure to smile your best smile.
Smile at a stranger.
Maybe your boss
But do share a smile.
Have a blessed week.
"Treat the earth well:
It was not given to you by your parents, It was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."
Ancient Indian Proverb
Your friend indeed,
Please feel free to forward this onto friends and family.
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