For the Birds Radio Program: Water in Winter, and Jim Baker Talks Politics
One of the questions people ask me every winter is how birds get water when everything is frozen. Most birds, like chickadees and Blue Jays, can get by for quite a while without drinking-they get some of their fluids from their food, and eat a bit of snow now and then to keep healthy. But even these birds need some water in liquid form-any time we get a thaw, you can find chickadees greedily quenching their thirst at dripping icicles. And Robins and other fruit eaters need a lot of water-virtually all robin flocks are found near at least a small source of open water, but when we get a sudden deep freeze like this year, they may be losing sources of water that they’d been counting on.
Heated bird baths are a wonderful source of drinking water, and though your backyard birds could survive without them, in a winter like this one when everything seems so harsh, it’s nice to do something that is both nice for them and healthy. Don’t leave the bath completely open for birds to bathe unless the weather is really mild, or they’ll end up in the situation that Coach was in on the TV show episode when he ended up in a hottub on a frigid day, and couldn’t come out without freezing. When feathers get saturated, they are worthless for flight, and the birds quickly die of hypothermia. So cover your bath with wide-weave rubber-coated hardware cloth or similar mesh which the birds can drink through but not bath through. Birds are like Norwegian bachelor farmers that don’t bother to bathe all winter anyway, and unlike Norwegian Bachelor farmers, birds don’t smell much in either sense of the word, so the lack of a bath doesn’t hurt their chances to find true love come spring. And speaking of not taking a bath in a while, here’s a word from Jim Baker.