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What Do Birds Drink When Everything Is Frozen?

There are few things more beautiful than a fresh blanket of snow and frozen ponds. It looks like a winter wonderland and very picturesque. Perhaps after enjoying the view for a while your mind may have turned to the furry creatures who have to live outdoors on these cold days. And you may have asked the question, what will all the animals drink if everything is frozen? Do they eat snow? We know people can freeze to death if they eat snow, so what about birds? The answer is yes, they can eat snow. But it takes a lot more energy to thaw the snow and for their bodies to bring the freezing temperatures of the snow up to their body temperature than if they drank water that wasn’t frozen. Water is just as important to animals as it is to humans. In fact, starvation (which is always a concern for birds) may be less of a threat than dehydration. Birds often get their water supply from icicles and melting puddles. When it is very cold and there is no water to drink, they eat snow.

But avoid running out and putting out bowls of hot water for your feathered friends. Although not common, birds have been known to bathe in warm water when it was very cold outside. And it resulted in their wings becoming covered with ice and unable to fly. Heated bird baths are a wonderful source of water for birds in freezing weather. But be sure to put stones or sticks on top of your body to prevent them from bathing.

Water is especially important for birds to stay warm in winter. Because water helps birds keep their feathers pre-set. Pre-jointed feathers are important to birds because they keep the feathers properly positioned and aligned. If they are not aligned, cold can seep through the gaps in their insulation. Which makes them lose their body heat faster. When there is no water for bathing, birds will take snow baths. This helps to puff and fluff their feathers to create an insulating layer. Each wing is controlled by a small group of muscles. When birds fluff their feathers, they create many tiny air pockets that drastically reduce heat loss. This is why down coats are so comfortable in the cold. On cold nights birds bury their beaks and feet in their feathers, which helps reduce heat loss further.

Winter is wonderful, but it can be a trying time for the animals that live in it. You can help alleviate their suffering by providing a reliable source of water. And don’t be fooled by the old myth that if you start feeding and watering the birds, they will starve if you stop. Nonsense! They won’t die of thirst or hunger any more than you if your favorite restaurant goes out of town! You may be upset but you certainly won’t die! Providing a haven for your feathered friends with bird feeders and heated bird baths will not only help them get outside, but in return, the birds are so much fun to watch. And it will provide you with many hours of fun and entertainment.

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