Baby, It's Cold Outside

So yesterday we had a truly White Christmas. Pretty well-behaved snow, with temperatures hanging around the 34 degree mark--leaving the snow easily transformed into snowmen, snow angels and of course, snowballs. [Bwahahahah!]

Today the temperatures have dropped well below the freezing mark, and will reach a high of only about 27 degrees. Gusts up to 30mph from the north are keeping most of the birds foofed up. Keeping the feeders stocked during days like these is more of a check-them-every-few-hours enterprise as opposed to the every other day or so that is usually par for the course. The squirrel shown here is waiting his turn for the peanut feeder. So polite!

More important than the feeders, however, is the

heated birdbath

. The one I use has a rough coating across the bottom and sits at ground level, sort of tucked into the slope and surrounded by rocks like everything else in the yard. Even after an accumulation of more than six inches of snow (more than we've had so far this year), the bath stays accessible to wildlife. And they really, really use it. Critter tracks make their way from the trees and shrubs to the bath for drinking and even the occasional bath. This Tufted Titmouse spent a good five minutes taking advantage of water in a form not frozen before heading back to the peanuts.

The other thing essential to wildlife success in wicked weather is shelter. Our guests take advantage of

roosting boxes

, but they also use the woodshed and the evergreens. And the logs under those evergreens. This morning an entire squadron of doves was perched on a small, eight-foot long log under the edges of the spruce trees.

Roosting boxes

differ from bird houses in that the birds enter near the bottom and then move to perches within the box that are located above the entry. More than one bird at a time may use a roosting box. Some are designed for pairs, but you can find others that are designed for

six birds

or more. Directions on building a simple roosting box can be found

here

.

The big threat to birds during extreme weather is the danger of freezing. Wildlife gardeners can help in all three ways described here. Provide water that they don't have to use precious energy to heat up, provide food that they don't have to search too hard to find (time is of the essence!), and make sure they have places to get out of the wind and wet. These three measures will help to ensure fewer fatalities throughout the winter, so you'll have songbirds to brighten your spring!

Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge

Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge

Now Is The Time . . .

Now Is The Time . . .