During the cold winter months, wild birds expend scarce energy searching for unstable open sources of water. Water is an important element that all birds must use daily. Birds lack the saliva a human mouth contains to ease the act of swallowing food. This explains the constant behavior path wild birds employ as they continually flitter from your bird feeder to bird bath. The oil content of some seeds, such as sunflower seed, aid in the consumption of food, but water is the deal maker.Snow and ice may provide emergency sources of water, as well as impediments. Birds would have to consume large quantities of snow for their daily requirement. Chipping ice into manageable amounts is a wasteful use of energy that is necessary to survive the cold temperatures.
Open sources of water such as moving rivers, outlets in lakes and ponds, melting ice puddles, etc are normal wild bird oases. Providing open sources of water in your backyard greatly increases the attractiveness to your songbirds.
There are options available that will provide ice-free water, simply and inexpensively. Birdbaths with built-in heating elements are the most popular with consumers. Screw on or clamp models attach to your deck or patio railings in close proximity to your outdoor electrical outlets. Look for features such as low wattage, starting from 40-60 watts, with a built-in thermostat. These models will regulate water temperature and only turn on when necessary to stop ice from forming. Pedestal designs with these features are also available. Properly designed models will provide open water in any New England weather, no matter how cold it gets.
You can purchase separate deicers to install in your existing bird baths. These devices range in power from 40-250 watts. The greater wattage provides open water in even the most extreme winter conditions up to 30º below zero! Brrrr!
It is easy to provide open water to your birds during the winter months for literally pennies a day. Place your heated bath in direct sunlight in order to avail yourself of the free solar energy. Birds only feed during the daylight hours, so why provide open water during the coldest times of the night? Our most popular heated birdbath allows you to simply dump the water and unplug the heated top before you bring into your house. In the morning, you place the top back unto the heavy duty metal ring already attached to the railing, fill with water and plug it in. In this manner, your thermostatically controlled heating element is consuming energy sparingly yet wisely, pennies a day!
This winter, consider the added benefit you can provide to your backyards through the use of heated water. Witnessing the pleasure of open water as your birds gleefully ring the edges of your bird bath is another enjoyable aspect of winter backyard bird feeding.
Enjoy your birds!
Wild Bird Depot is located on Rt 11 in Gilford, NH. Steve White is a contributing author in major publications, a guest lecturer at major conventions in Atlanta and St. Louis as well as the host of WEZS 1350AM radio show “Bird Calls” with Lakes Region Newsday @ 8:30AM. Wild Bird Depot has donated over $5,000 to local rehabilitators and local nature centers since 1996. Be sure to check out our blog “Bird Droppings” via our website www.wildbirddepot.com. Like us on Facebook for great contests and prizes.