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February 5, 2011 / Leslie

Weekend Birding: Water In Cold Weather

Heated Bird BathEven in cold weather birds need fresh water for drinking and bathing. A clean bird is a warm and healthy bird. Bathing and preening helps remove dirt and parasites from their feathers. Clean feathers provide a layer of insulation as protection from the cold.

I always feel bad when I put the bird bath away in December. Chicago winters are freezing cold and it would crack if I left it out. The birds would still come looking for it though.

Pine Siskin on Heated Bird BathA few years ago I bought a heated bath. It mounts on the deck railing outside my door so it’s easy to keep filled and clean. On really cold mornings you can see the steam. It looks like a little spa for the birds. They seem very appreciative and often show up in groups to drink and preen.

The picture on the right is a Pine Siskin Yellow-rumped Warbler, who took a quick drink and then flew off. (Update: it was only after reviewing my photos months later that I noticed this was a warbler, very unusual for a suburban Chicago backyard in February.)

Starlings in Heated Bird Bath

After the blizzard stopped Wednesday morning a starling stopped by for a drink. Then two more showed up and the next thing I knew they were having a pool party! When they finished splashing they flew over to a sunny spot in the apple tree to finish preening.

The birds were my snow day entertainment since I couldn’t get out of my driveway, the streets were a mess and there was nowhere to go.



Leave a Comment
  1. bermudaonion / Feb 5 2011 7:30 am

    Wow, you must have a great lens on your camera!


    • Leslie / Feb 6 2011 10:17 am

      Then lens is a 55-250mm zoom on a Canon Rebel. It’s lightweight, all purpose and was reasonably priced. I’d love to get one of those big professional long distance lenses some day.


  2. Rebecca Rasmussen / Feb 6 2011 10:09 am

    These are absolutely gorgeous, and as I told you before, I so have to get a heated bath for my birdies! XOXO


    • Leslie / Feb 6 2011 10:14 am

      The water seems to attract more birds. And they’re so much fun to watch when they start splashing around.


  3. Rebecca Rasmussen / Feb 6 2011 10:19 am

    It’s just such a nice thing to see some vigor in the winter 🙂


  4. michelle / Feb 8 2011 9:05 pm

    What beautiful photos. I love the bird baths-they look very serene.


  5. Robyn / Feb 11 2011 11:14 am

    I love your bird bath pictures. I just put a feeder out in my very small backyard and then it got full of water/snow and froze, which happens left often in Southern Indiana then in Chicago. My cats have enjoyed what little action it’s seen so far, mostly involving a very fat squirrel!


    • Leslie / Feb 13 2011 11:47 pm

      Glad you enjoyed the bird pictures. It seems like all the squirrels are huge this year. And amazingly they can still jump up high enough to occasionally reach one of the feeders!



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