Friday, January 9, 2009

Warm Drinks on Cool Days

It is a wonderful experience to be able to provide the birds with the resources they need, and now I can do more thanks to a lovely Christmas gift from my husband: a thermostat controlled heating element for my concrete birdbath. We installed it a few days ago, and I've already seen both house finches and American goldfinches sipping from the now liquid pool. While the bulky heater and its cords may not be pretty, it is a beautiful sight to see the birds so appreciative of the water.

For some birders, it seems incongruous to provide heated water (and it's not warm water, just heated enough to stay liquid) when the ground is covered with frozen water -- after all, can't the birds just melt the snow to drink? Many of them do, but it takes a good deal of energy and caloric heat to melt snow for drinking. If liquid water is available, birds can better use their limited food supplies for body heat and survival. This will help build a happier, healthier backyard flock throughout the year, and the birds' bright plumage and perky personalities are a pleasure during every winter day.

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