Although migratory birds usually garner all the attention, many beautiful birds can be found in our area all winter long. In fact, winter is one of the best times to enjoy your local bird life. With most of the leaves off the trees, visibility is often better and many brightly colored birds such as Northern Cardinals and Blue Jays are easy to spot against a snowy backdrop.
In general, birds migrate in search for food. Although temperature can be a factor, the loss of light is of more immediate importance. As the days become shorter, plants begin to die or enter into their dormant phase. This means birds lose a key sources of food such as insects and berries. While food is still available, there is not enough to support the diversity of bird life that is present in the spring and summer.
Birds that overwinter in colder climates are adept at finding alternative food sources. Some, like American Robins, can survive on winter fruits, such as those from chokecherries, hawthorn, and dogwood trees. Others, like Blue Jays, Carolina Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, and some woodpeckers, store food in caches, like squirrels.
American Robins, Blue Jays, Northern Cardinals, American Goldfinches, Carolina Chickadees, Carolina Wren, Tufted Titmice, Downy Woodpeckers, Hairy Woodpeckers, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, and Pileated Woodpeckers are just a few examples of wonderful local birds that can be found in our area during the colder weather.
If you are looking for a good winter activity, put up a winter bird feeder in your backyard. Many of these birds frequent feeders and will become regular visitors to your yard if there is seed available. You can also support birdlife in the winter by putting up birdbaths and birdhouses. To figure out how to build nest boxes or birdhouses for birds in your area, click here.
Be sure to stay tuned for our next blog post, “Where Are They In The Winter: Mammals.”