Birds use variety of techniques to survive winter

MOANA NURSERY NEWS RELEASE

From food consumption to feather adjustments and shivering, birds use a variety of techniques to stay warm during winter.

Food is the most essential element, providing birds with the energy, stamina and nutrition they need to stay warm. Birds will expend energy very quickly, some losing up to 10 percent of their body weight on extremely cold nights. An ample supply of high-calorie foods, such as black oil sunflower seeds, peanuts and suet, can be crucial to a bird’s survival.

“We can play a vital role during cold conditions,” said Jacque Lowery, manager of the Reno Wild Birds Unlimited, located in three Moana Nursery locations. “At these times, a reliable supply of food can mean the difference between life and death for a bird.”

Most birds will also keep warm by adjusting their feathers to create air pockets.

“You will often notice the birds look fatter or ‘puffed up’ during cold weather,” explained Lowery. “This is because the birds are fluffing up their feathers; the more air space, the better the insulation.”

Staying warm is not all about food and feathers, though. Some birds perch on one leg at a time, drawing the free leg to their chest for warmth. Most birds will shiver to convert muscular energy into heat for the short term, but the energy must be replenished shortly thereafter.

While birds are equipped to withstand most winter weather, survival can be made easier by providing food, a heated, open source of water and protection from the elements with natural plant cover or a roosting box.

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Wild Birds Unlimited, located inside all three Moana Nursery locations in Reno and Sparks (1100 W. Moana Lane, 11301 S. Virginia St. and 7655 Pyramid Hwy.), is part of the original and largest franchise system of backyard bird feeding and nature specialty stores with more than 275 locations throughout the United States and Canada. Wild Birds Unlimited specializes in bringing people and nature together with bird feeding and nature products, expert advice and educational events. Visit www.reno.wbu.com for more information.

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