Make a Splash with Your Birds
Tired of seeing the same old birds? Hopefully, that will never happen!
But honestly, don’t we all get excited to see some brand new birds in our backyards every now and then?
So quickly…what is the number one thing you can do to attract the largest variety of new birds into your yard?
If you thought…water. You take the prize! Yes, it is most certainly water. All wild birds love water, and they find water irresistible.
Ever see a bird playing? Just watch them around water. They jump, they perch and they flutter their wings. They dance, they sing and do amazing things! Species that might not ordinarily visit a feeder will stop by a bird bath for a spritz or a splash. Robins may stay and play the day away. Orioles & warblers may visit for a quick drink or dip.
But a bird’s life is not all about play, it is also a very serious business, especially when it comes to water. A reliable source of clean water is indispensable for birds.
Birds must be ready to fly at all times, and bathing is a critical part of maintaining feathers in top-flight condition. Water is also vitally important for many birds to regulate their body temperature. Birds do not sweat and must remove excess body heat through their respiratory system, a reliable source of water is vital in helping them to replace fluids lost to this process.
You can offer water to birds in a variety of ways. It can be as simple as a bird bath or as elaborate as an artificial pool with rocks, plants and flowing water. There are misters and drippers that will add even more action and variety.
Whatever you choose, you are sure to broaden the roster of new birds visiting your yard, add hours of enjoyable bird watching entertainment for family and friends…all while providing a fun and essential necessity of life for your birds.
Now that is truly making a splash!
Fabulous Feathers – Time for a Change
A quick quiz: What is a feather made of? Over 90% of a feather, or a hair, is made up of a tough protein called keratin. In fact, a bird’s feathers contain over 25% of the total protein found within its entire body. Who knew?
A little longer quiz: How often do birds grow new feathers? All birds grow an entire body full of new feathers as youngsters in the nest. It is the only time in a bird’s life that it will grow all of its feathers at one time. It boggles the mind to think that a chickadee can grow all of its feathers and be ready to leave its nest in as little as 11 days!
Feathers are amazingly tough…but they do wear out and need to be replaced. Most adult song birds will molt (shed) and replace their feathers once a year, usually after their nesting duties are completed. A majority of backyard feeder birds perform this annual molt from July-September, but some, like Downy Woodpeckers and Eastern Bluebirds continue well into October. Having a strong set of fresh new feathers is of tremendous benefit to birds that are facing the rigors of migration or the struggles of surviving a long, cold winter.
Come nesting season, some of our backyard birds exchange just a portion of their feathers for more colourful breeding plumage. While American Goldfinches do molt and replace all their feathers (body, wings and tail) each autumn, come spring, they molt only their body feathers to transform into their showy yellow courtship attire.
Whatever the reason for growing new feathers, it comes at a high price. The demand for energy and nutrition during this process is through the roof, and large amounts of protein and fat are essential for being able to create strong and colourful feathers.
Look around your yard today. Goldfinches nest later than other birds while other adults are starting to take on that “shaggy” look that signals the start of their annual molt. Young birds that recently left their nest are also busy growing more “adult-like” feathers to replace their less efficient juvenile plumage.
If you want to have a blast watching your feeders, while also doing your birds a big favour…be sure to keep your feeders well stocked with the high-fat and high-protein foods that will keep them healthy and looking sharp for the coming year!