Sunday, November 28, 2010

Hot and Cold Doves

At this time of year, the weather in Utah is ultimately unpredictable, as my mourning doves have discovered in the last week. At first, it was wonderful lazy dove weather - perfect for sunning and stretching out in the toasty mulch beds. The doves will do that for hours, shifting position now and then as the sun shifts in the sky, but always just calmly enjoying its warm rays. Occasionally there will be a tail stretch, a wing stretch, or a feather ruffle, but for the most part it is a lazy and relaxing activity.

Overnight, however, the weather can change, and those same mulch beds are blanketed with snow. The mourning doves seem to appreciate this less, as they will be forced to perch and huddle on branches or the fence as the snow builds up around them. Still, they are stoic about it, and even a temperature drop or sudden snowfall doesn't faze their gentle countenance.

It is fanciful to think that perhaps the doves - or any sunning birds - store up heat to use in the winter, but they do have many ways to keep warm. Their feathers are better insulation than anything we can devise, and by offering good food - my hopper feeders are filled with hulled sunflower hearts - we can help them have enough energy to maintain a strong body heat for survival in the coldest weather. Providing liquid water is also essential, and I'm happy that my heated bird bath is out and available for everyone to sip. Shelter will help the birds keep warm, and my pine brush pile is a welcome haven for many finches and sparrows, though the doves rather disdain its prickly cover.

This time of year can be hard on the birds and mortality rises, but if you provide good food, water, and shelter, you can help your backyard birds survive. What's more, you'll be able to enjoy hot and cold birds year round, always marveling at their adaptations in any season.

1 comment:

Springman said...

Wonderful shots!
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