If you are in need of a good warm winter coat and head toward your nearest sporting goods store, what filling might you look for? Probably a down-filled coat, yes?
That is exactly what birds have – only they come by it naturally without having to shop around.
Yes, extreme cold temperatures can be hard on birds, but the birds that over- winter here in Evanston – among them cardinals, blue jays, dark-eyed juncos, nuthatches, mourning doves, various woodpeckers and chickadees – have evolved methods of coping with the cold.
For example, flocks of Juncos, who are here only in the winter, group together in overnight roosts.
A flock of eight juncos might shelter in an evergreen tree, always politely rotating their positions so that no one is on the outside all night and everyone gets a turn on the warmer inside.
Chickadees may lower their body temperatures to save energy, going into a sort of hypothermia.
To help birds through patches of extreme cold: If you are already feeding birds, keep it up, so that birds know where to find a source of food.
Water is extremely important for birds, so if you already have a heated bird bath, keep it filled. If you are a snowbird and go south for the winter, have faith that birds will find the feeders of those of us who tough it up in Evanston’s winter.