As the last rays of the winter sun disappear, the activity at our birdfeeders comes to an abrupt halt. Did you ever wonder where these daily visitors go at night to be warm and safe?
Many head for trees and shrubs and perch in leafy bushes, evergreens or vines for the night. Dense brush piles and discarded Christmas trees on your property can protect birds from night predators such as cats. Brush piles also provide protection from the wind.
Swallows retreat to beams in barns. Starlings and pigeons roost under bridges. Ducks often sleep while floating. Woodpeckers can hook their claws into tree bark or retreat into holes to sleep. Chickadees, titmice, and bluebirds also roost in tree holes for safety and warmth. In fact, many bluebirds may roost together at night, filling the cavity to capacity!
Surviving Bitter Cold Nights
Warm shelters help, but when the temperature drops below zero, sleeping birds need bellies full of high calorie foods to keep their bodies warm. To help them out, fill your feeders full of high-calorie seed and nuts the last few hours of daylight, especially when it is bitter cold.
And birds wake up hungry! As day breaks, birds may flock to your feeders to replenish fat lost keeping warm overnight. Offer sunflower chips (without the shell), shelled peanuts, suet, and thistle seed, which are the highest calorie, easiest consumable foods you can provide for the birds.
Hold on Tight!
Many birds have a special muscle in each leg that can lock the bird's feet to a branch. This keeps the bird from falling off while it sleeps! To unlock this tight grip, the bird needs only to stand up straight.
So each night as you tuck yourself in beneath flannel sheets and down comforter, feel good that the high-calorie food, water, and shelter you're providing might help birds survive a cold winter night.
Based on material provided by WBU, Inc.