Yes, we need to give Birds water in winter. They need a water source as much in the cold months as they do at other times of the year. They really don’t want a bath, they just need a good long drink to help with hydration and digestion. I would imagine that birdseed is rather dry and they certainly do eat a lot of it!
While there may be snow on the ground, it costs birds precious calories and body heat to melt frozen water. Flying around in search of water burns more energy and can take birds farther away from food sources.
So one way to attract birds to our feeders, and help them survive despite cold harsh temperatures is to ensure an open source of fresh water.
Simple Tips to Give birds water in winter
- Move your birdbath into a sunny location to absorb the sun’s rays and keep the water liquid
- Position it near a windbreak if possible although be mindful of positioning in a spot where kitty cats can hide to pounce.
- Add a sheet of black plastic to the bottom to help absorb heat and enable the water to stay liquid longer.
- Instead of a birdbath, use a black tray weighted with river rocks.
- Add a few stones or branches to give them a perch to drink from.
- Float a small ball in the bath. This will help break the surface when the wind blows it across, breaking any thin ice that has formed.
- Try to keep it full, as this will help the water to stay liquid longer.
- Another option is an outdoor-rated immersion heater. This will keep the water just warm enough to avoid freezing, but it must be near an outdoor outlet. Bird supply stores or farm stores are sources for these heaters.
- In a larger container or pool of water such as a pond, an airstone bubbler will keep an area open most of the winter.
- Don’t use your concrete birdbath which can crack when water freezes.
- Do not add any salts, anti-freeze, or other chemicals to the water, as these are highly toxic and poisonous to birds.
Do keep the water clean and refill often! Enjoy the birds who will come to your feeders more often and will crowd around that water source. They will thank you next spring by giving you a hand with natural pest control in your garden.
More reading – National Wildlife Federation, Don’t Forget Water
More about birds in our yards