Selective Bird Feeding, Nebraska Extension (2012)
Birds Need Water In Winter
By Sarah Browning, UNL Extension Educator
Water in a birdbath, small backyard pool or pond attracts birds and supplies water needed for drinking and bathing. Although in winter some birds may get water from snow, snowmelt is chilling. Heated birdbaths can be especially important to birds during winter months, when little unfrozen moisture is available.
Choose a birdbath that isn’t too deep. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the best birdbaths mimic rain puddles- shallow and with gradually sloping sides. This makes it easy for birds to wade into the water. A maximum depth of no more than two inches is ideal. Look for a birdbath made of tough plastic so it won’t crack and is easy to clean. And remember to keep your birdbath clean and the water fresh. Birds seem to prefer birdbaths placed at ground level, but if you are concerned about neighborhood cats you can raise the bath 2-3 feet above the ground.
Place clean sand or gravel in the bottom of the basin to give birds a sure footing. Arrange a few perches in the birdbath, using small branches or stones. These give birds a place to perch and drink without getting wet, and are especially important during winter. If possible, place your birdbath near trees or shrubs, giving birds a place to hide if predators show up. Birds with feathers wet from bathing don’t fly well, so woody shrubs offer a place to sit and preen until their feathers dry off. Finally, the sight and sound of moving water is irresistible to many birds. Birdbath drippers are a new innovation meant to attract even more birds to your bath. Commercial drippers or sprayers are available, or you can make your own. Simple punch a small hole is a plastic container, such as a liter soda bottle, and hang it so that the water drips into your birdbath.
The problem: Every years millions of birds are killed by accidentally colliding with windows.
Windows at Risk
According to research done by D. J. Horn and K. A. Collins,
- North facing windows received over 50% of the strikes
- Most collisions occurred in May, September, and October
Solution: Reduce the reflectivity of your windows
- Draw the curtain behind the window
- Place objects in front of the window to break the outline and possibly slow birds down as they approach
- Direct lights to shine out of the window
- Soap the windows
- Cover the window with some sort of semi-transparent film.
Additional Resources to Prevent Bird Collisions
Fatal Light Awareness Program–site dealing with the way light interferes with birds both in migration and fatal collisions with windows.
Reducing Bird Collisions with Buildings, US Fish and Wildlife Service (2016)
Bird Collisions with Windows: An Annotated Bibliography, by Chad Seewagen, Dept. or Ornithology, Wildlife Conservation Society. Updated
Project Birdsafe, Minnesota Audubon
- Nest Box Plans, Ohio DNR
- Wood Duck Management,Virginia Cooperative Extension (2009)
- Osprey Nesting Platforms
To find a wildlife rehab facility, conduct an internet search with wildlife rehab and your state, for example, wildlife rehab MI. Here are a few to get you started.