Even in sunny, snow-free San Diego County, I need to do a walk-around to make sure my birds can make it through the cold days ahead. The temps might plunge to 50 degrees during the day and 30 overnight. Don’t get me started on the rain and possible hail. (Laugh it up, you dwellers in the White Belt. At least I can have snow on my computer if I want it.)
In order to survive temperatures that are below what the birds have been used to, they need a few simple things. First, a place to go to get out of any wind or rain. Then, enough food so they can keep their body temps up. And finally, extended light either in the morning or the evening so that they can see to eat.
Winter is the time to feed your outside birds lots of seeds. The fat content will help with warming up those little bodies. Fresh water continues to be super-important, not frozen and readily accessible. Of course, greens and whole grains like Quinoa are good, too, for keeping birds healthy and full of vitamins.
Check each aviary for a cozy corner. My biggest aviary has a roof over more than half of it and two walls in the corner under the roof. The birds have been well in there for several years now. However, the outrigger cages, now numbering four, might be in need of some extra shielding. They have roofs and sides but need one more side covered to create the cozy corner. I would like to have roll-up shades in the airlock side of the oldest two cages. The new ones need a bit more thought.
As soon as I am up in the morning, I turn on my patio light. The finches send up a chorus when that happens. And I am sure they start feeding. They have nest boxes shelter in, as do some of the other outside birds. Getting that early light before sunrise and a few hours after sunset may screw up their seasonal clocks but certainly helps keep them warm.
Finally, a word about predators. Winter can be hard for those creatures and caged birds look like an easy option. I’ve been fortunate to not have snakes to worry about but learned recently that if your cage wire has horizontal openings instead of vertical openings between the wires, you are making it easier for snakes to get in. Vertical spaces keep their heads from passing through and they don’t really have the reasoning power to think about turning their heads. Hawks and other birds of prey will fly at the wire and try to catch a panicked bird to pull through. Bird netting will help keep them away, but might not prevent the hawk getting a talon into your bird before learning that’s a no deal. If you can use spacers to extend the bird net a few inches away from the wires, your birds will be safer and your birds of prey less successful.
I hope you found some useful information in this blog. Thanks for reading. I’ll be back next Sunday.