Winter Survival – Bird Style

Illustration by Megan Bishop

It’s the first day of winter, and the media sirens are wailing about a bitter winter storm that will affect most of the United States. Many areas are expecting blizzard conditions. It appears unlikely we’ll get much snow here in north-central Kentucky, but we will get high winds and extreme windchill readings. This storm is a fast mover, and conditions should moderate within a couple of days.

I awoke thinking about what I have learned about how birds survive these gelid conditions. I would expect to see birds frozen stiff, dropping out of the trees. Some freeze to death, but most survive by calling on unique adaptations, as explained in this article by Bernd Heinrich published by Cornell Lab of Ornithology. How Do Birds Survive The Winter? It includes some lovely illustrations by Megan Bishop.

Anyone interested in helping out the birds during this brief, dangerously cold period can put out some Black Oil Sunflower seeds and suet, available in the grocery store, not too far from the bread and milk. Both are high in fat content to help the little spirits generate the extra heat they need to make it through.

Thought In Memory Of Thomas Brown

I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December.
A magical thing
And sweet to remember.

Oliver Hereford