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It’s Getting Cold Across Much Of The Country, So How Do Our Birds Cope With Winter’s Chill?
Posted on Sunday, December 11, 2016 by eNature
Eastern Bluebird
Eastern Bluebird

Winter’s chill is arriving, with close to Arctic conditions forecast for many of less temperate states over the next few days. 

So how do our birds cope and what do they do for protection during severe weather such as blizzards, hurricanes, and tornadoes?

Birds have an amazing ability to find refuge from storms, but they do it in a variety of ways, depending on the species and the bird’s natural habitat.

Bluebirds, for example, often winter as far north as New England. They find protection against the cold and storms by communal roosting, often in a bird house. There are photographs of 13 male eastern bluebirds, all crowded into one bluebird house. This behavior shares warmth, and keeps the birds out of the wind, rain and snow.

Other cavity nesters, such as chickadees, titmice and woodpeckers, also seek out old nesting sites in dead trees or bird houses in which to roost or find protection during a storm.

Nuthatches, which sometimes nest behind a loose piece of tree bark, may seek the same kind of shelter against the cold.

Flocks of rosy finches often roost in an outcropping of rock where they can get out of the cold wind.

Bobwhite make a circle of the covey, huddled side-by-side, with head facing out. This allows them to share body heat, while being ready to escape in all directions, should they be attacked.

Ruffed grouse take a different tactic. They dive into a snow bank, and may stay there for several days until the storm passes.  Many other birds retreat to dense, evergreen thickets where they are protected from the elements for the duration of the storm.

How are your birds coping with the cold? 

Please share your stories— we always enjoy hearing them!



A pair of Carolina Wrens built a beautiful nest in a hanging basket outside of our breakfast nook. They never raised any offspring in the nest, but now that it is cold they are using the nest as shelter.
We placed a container with food near the nest. We have observed tufted titmice and a nuthatch enjoying the food, but not the wrens. I know wrens require extra food in the evening, is there anything else we can do for our beautiful neighbors?

Posted by Katherine Cooper on 12/13
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