Did you ever wonder seeing them in this weather? It all depends on the species of bird in how they find protection. I watch wild birds, and having a cockatoo, I do pretty well guessing their moods and possible actions.
Cavity nesting birds, such as chickadees, titmice and woodpeckers, seek out nesting sites in old trees or might even utilize bird houses to find protection during a storm. They may use cavities in your building structures getting additional warmth from the heat the building emits.
I already did a post last year entitled How Do Birds Keep Warm in Winter, but never talked about ice which has its own set of difficulties.
Birds such as cardinals and other roosting birds may retreat to dense evergreens where protected from the elements for the duration of a storm.
Birds normally solitary in breeding season, come winter, you find them in huge roosts and feeding flocks on occasion. Different bird species gather around reliable food sources, allowing birds to use less energy searching for predators and more energy feeding. It works that way with shelter too. Birds stay around the reliable food and spend the night in a mixed flock in the shelter plants. If missing the plants providing safety and shelter, you will likely see far less birds than hoped.
Many species of birds retreat to my juniper, and do you know why birds like juniper? It is like a bed and breakfast for them with little cones or berries, but more importantly, the feral cats don’t climb such a scratchy, dense plant.
And what about cold feet? Well birds have scales covering the feet and legs which is protective and it keeps them insulated. With a unique circulatory system, there is also no problem gripping an icy branch.
Birds also head to heavily branched deciduous shrubs, thickets being most popular. My yard is bird-busy, the Viburnum, Trumpet Vine and lilacs are popular places for bird safety.
Many conifers are on my property and walking outside as the sun sets, one can hear the chatter and branches shake as the birds try find room to settle in.
The evergreen juniper, two large Alberta Spruce, multitude of arborvitae, and Taxus protect the roosting birds from wind, rain, ice and snow. Even the small boxwood helps ground feeders. Perennials if left standing are helpful, but cats may hide in them awaiting feeding birds.
Chickadees find cavities and like the woodpeckers, live in the old Mulberry and Black Walnut behind the garage. Those are two trees like five-star hotels. You should see the bird hanky panky shaking those limbs in Spring.
Two doors down, the huge spruce in a neighbor’s yard houses many of the sparrows. It is a favorite hangout for hawks also.
Bird feathers will fluff up when they hunker down to maintain heat. Above, that is one chilly wet cardinal in the lilac below, puffed up like a balloon in my garden.
Watching the birds is entertaining, and some are a bit clumsy dealing with slippery, iced surfaces. A lot of fancy footwork got this dove finally on the perch.
A problem for some birds like robins, is fruit and berries get encapsulated in ice. I saw the Blue Jays unsuccessfully trying to eat iced pears in my garden.
The yard was filled with cardinals during this storm.
More cardinals show up the worse the storm. For a tiny city yard, 6 pairs visited at one time. Actually, this is normal where you will see more birds coming into your garden for sanctuary and warmth from the harsher conditions they might find in the surrounding countryside. The garden may get unusual species at the feeder as well for this reason.
The sparrows lined up on the fence when not retreating to the Juniper. I think they sit there plotting.
I love seeing the cardinals though, even if just waiting for the sparrows to leave.
This sparrow is the lookout. What an important job he must have.
How do you weather a storm? Next, Hand Feeding Wild Birds. An approaching storm makes them more trusting.