Updated: Mar 26, 2019
Happy New Year!
I hope the year has been good to you all thus far. I took a little hiatus during the holidays to enjoy precious time with family and friends, but I'm back and looking forward to sharing with you all that 2019 has to offer!
Winter has been pretty mild here in New England, but rumor has it that it is about to rear its ugly head! And as the temperatures plunge, my old friend Bobby Blue Jay is here to remind all of you backyard birders to keep a source of fresh water available for all of our little feathered friends if you are able. Food is scarce in the winter, but water can be even more scarce, and providing water will often attract more birds to your yard than a feeder!
Bobby is demonstrating that birds can eat snow if no other water source is available, and it can satisfy their daily fluid requirement. But eating that snow reduces their body temperature which in turn requires food to restore those energy levels - energy which they need to forage for that food when sources are scarce. It's a vicious cycle. So you can see why a water source is so important.
Of course, the easiest way to provide a water source in the winter is to use a heated bird bath. But not everyone is able to do so. There are, however, a couple of things you might try to help keep your water from freezing in the winter.
First, keep your water source full. Smaller amounts of liquid freeze more quickly.
Next, place your water in a sunny spot so "Ol' Sol" can work his magic to keep your water from freezing just a bit longer. Try to position it near a windbreak for added protection. Darker surfaces also allow for more sun absorption - so adding some dark rocks or even some black plastic in the bottom or your bird bath can also help with the solar energy.
If you have a SMALL ball, you can also try placing that in the liquid. As the ball blows across the surface of the water, it will keep ice from forming. I have also placed a small branch in my bird baths that I can easily lift out of the water if a thin layer of ice forms across the top. This lifts the ice up and out of the water, keeping the water from freezing so quickly.
Please do NOT add any chemicals or salts to your water. These things are highly toxic and poisonous to birds. And if your bath does freeze, remember to not add boiling water to the bath. This will most likely result in a cracked bird bath and that's no fun for you or the birds!
Keep warm, my friends, and enjoy the beauty of the season!
Middlesex County, MA