Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but the bird feeder is so delightful. Well, that's what birds think, anyway. A recent study of 18 Northeastern winter birds found that many of them flocked to bird feeders when the weather went south. So this winter, keep your head up when the temperature goes down and watch that bird feeder like a hawk!
Viewer Tip: Keep your eyes peeled when the following conditions happen in your backyard this winter:
- In wet conditions, look for American Tree Sparrows, White-throated Sparrows, Dark-eyed Juncos, Northern Cardinals, and House Finches.
- When the morning low is below seasonal average, watch for White-throated Sparrows and Carolina Wrens. Most of the birds in this study were more likely to visit bird feeders in abnormally cold conditions.
- If you live in an urban area, Mounting Doves, Northern Cardinals and House Sparrows are more likely to visit your feeders in general.
Don't have a feeder? Add one! There are many types of feeders available at all price levels. If you don't have a yard, you can still feed the birds — hang a feeder on a patio or balcony, or attach a window feeder for winter viewing.
(Source: Zuckerberg, Benjamin et al. 2011, “Climatic constraints on wintering bird distributions are modified by urbanization and weather,” Journal of Animal Ecology, 80, 403-314, doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2656.2010.01780.x; Image of House Finch, courtesy of USFWS.)