Be Your Own Birder

A Smile to Stay Warm By

Extreme, bitter cold can be tough to smile about – even smiling too much in subzero temperatures can be painful, causing chapped lips and chilly eyes, causing teeth to ache, and simply stealing your breath away. Why not be like birds and head for warmer climates?

Of course, even in Florida we feel the chill! While it may not be on par with polar vortexes and arctic blasts, it’s still colder than normal in Florida, and it’s a great comfort to turn a furnace on, add an extra blanket to the bed, or wear a pair of cozy socks. These days I’m doing all three!

Birds warm up in their own ways, and one way they’re quickly generating heat is by raiding feeders. So I help keep their internal furnaces stoked with extra corn and millet for carbohydrates and sunflower chips and peanuts for fat, plus fresh nectar and fruit chunks for a sweet burst of energy. Suet, nyjer, and sunflower seeds are other top winter foods that can help birds stay warm and energized even in bitter cold.

Bluebirds at the Suet Feeder
Eastern Bluebirds Eating Winter Suet – Photo by Alan Sandercock

In my yard, though it may not be buried under snow or blasted by wind chills, the birds still appreciate the bounty. Mourning doves, blue jays, common grackles, palm warblers, pine warblers, painted buntings, red-bellied woodpeckers, ruby-throated hummingbirds, northern mockingbirds, and brown-headed cowbirds are all making daily appearances. More occasional guests include the common ground-doves, yellow-bellied sapsuckers, boat-tailed grackles, and the neighborhood red-shouldered hawk, and all are welcome.

Be sure to refill your feeders and keep fresh water in a heated bird bath to help birds make it through these chilly days. You never know what birds may appreciate the assistance!

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