Winter Bird Myths and Facts


True or false? Birds cannot survive below zero temps?

Photo by Randy Quinn

The answer is false. According to our bird expert, George, birds are actually well equipped to survive the coldest of temperatures. They store fat during the short days of winter to keep themselves warm during the long nights. During those freezing nights, they fluff their feathers to trap heat and slow their metabolism to conserve energy. They also look for good places to roost, whether it’s a birdhouse, natural tree cavity, grass thicket, evergreen or shrub.

Here are three more myths you might have heard.

Myth #1:

American robins always fly south for winter.

Fact: If there is sufficient food on their breeding grounds, American robins, bluebirds, and a host of finches and owls remain in the area where they spent the summer.

Myth #2:

You should take birdhouses down in winter because birds don’t use them.

Fact: On the contrary — a birdhouse makes a great roosting house in winter. Eastern bluebirds will pile into houses to spend cold nights. One photographer once even snapped a picture of 13 male bluebirds in a single house!

Myth #3:

If you leave town during winter, the birds that rely on the food from your feeders will die.

Fact: Research has proven this one wrong. Scientists have shown that chickadees, for example, will eat only 25% of their daily winter food from feeders. They find the other 75% in the wild. In addition, with so many people feeding them nowadays, birds in your yard will simply fly to a nearby neighbor to get their food until you return home.

Still want more? Impress your friends with more winter bird myths.

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