The harsh winter conditions are not the best for winter birds, but they have learned to adapt. Here you can find out how you can make the wintertime even more pleasant for them.
Characteristics of winter birds
Not only storks but also nightingales, swifts, and chiffchaff, which provide a beautiful sound in the garden in summer, migrate south in winter. However, not all species embark on the long journey to warmer regions. Some stay in Germany over the winter and are exposed to sub-zero temperatures and a lack of food.
Birds need to keep their body temperature at a constant level between 38-42 degrees Celsius. Because of this, they can fluff up their feathers. The protruding feathers provide more warmth. A special blood circulation cools the bare legs to 0 degrees Celsius. This means that hardly any heat can be lost through the legs.
Food is particularly important for the birds at this time, as it ensures sufficient heat supply as an energy supply. Seeds, nuts, and grains are now being incorporated into their daily diet of many kinds. They provide high-energy, high-fat food.
Not all species can easily change their diet and are dependent on insects as a food source even in winter. Therefore, they overwinter in warmer regions, since the number of insects is not sufficient in regions that are too cold. Not all birds migrate to Africa. Some remain in southern parts of Europe and are short-distance migrants. When the birds go to their winter quarters depends on the length of the day. The birds’ hormones change as daylight dwindles, signaling the journey south.
Winter birds in Germany
The most common winter birds in Germany include the sparrow, the blue tit, and the blackbird. To make it easy for you to identify your garden, we will briefly introduce you to the most common winter birds.
The black blackbird males with their yellow-orange beaks are easy to spot. The females have brownish feathers and a light chest.
This compact little bird has a blue skull with white cheeks. The yellow breast and blue wings are distinctive features of the bird. In winter it is often found at feeders. The blue tit is Europe’s only blue and yellow bird
The robin is easily recognized by its red breast and rounded body shape. If you see a robin in winter, they usually come from the northern regions and migrate north again in summer.
The jay’s size, the pinkish-brown coloration of the body, and lateral blue, white, and black patterned feathers are unique characteristics. He feels particularly comfortable in large gardens or parks. For the winter, the birds like to hide different nuts in the ground, which are often forgotten.
Sparrow or house sparrow
The sparrow has a large head and a relatively large beak. The males are slightly more conspicuous than the dull brown females, with a black throat and brown stripes on the side of the head and back. They prefer to feed on seeds and grains and are the most common of all species to be seen at feeding grounds in winter.
The little tit can be clearly recognized by its white and black speckled crest. If you have a large coniferous tree in your garden or live near coniferous forests, you will often spot them.
Read Also: Should You Keep A Bird Alone?
Proper feeding in winter
Especially cold winters are responsible for the fact that more and more birds come to the home gardens and cities. In the cities, the temperature in winter is always slightly higher than in the countryside. Here they find shelter, are better able to protect themselves from the cold and it is easier to find food.
If you want to help the little feathered friends in winter, the right food is crucial. Sunflower seeds, fat dumplings, or peanuts are just a small approximation of the bird’s natural diet.
In nature, various seeds from trees are the most important food source. Beechnuts, birch seeds, or seeds from spruce cones become vital food. As winter progresses, more and more natural food sources dwindle. Then the set-up feed dispensers are used. This can often last until February, as there are still enough seeds from trees to be found in the months before.
How to fill feeding places and bird feeders :
- sunflower seeds
- Block of fat with nuts or mealworms
- fat balls
- Chopped nuts
- Raisins and dried fruits
- Oily seeds (hemp or poppy)
Criticism of feeding wild birds
Feeding birds can become a real bone of contention. Even experts disagree on whether or not you should offer food to the birds. Some experts argue that foraging should be left to the birds themselves and not intervened as the populations will regulate themselves through the lack of food.
Other experts are of the opinion that the increased use of pesticides in agriculture and one-sided cultivation would put a heavy strain on the stocks anyway, and feeding in winter can help here.
Here everyone has to decide for themselves whether the winter birds should be fed or not.