Backyard Chirper

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How to Help Backyard Birds Beat the Heat

July was the hottest recorded month in the history of the United States. Unless you were living in some icy pocket of the country (in which case, tell me where), you felt it. And temperatures in August, especially in the Southwest, have continued to be inhospitable.

With climate change expected to continue unabated, things are only going to get worse in the coming years.

While we can all stay indoors in front of fans and air-conditioners, birds are among the wildlife negatively affected by the soaring heat. So, if you’re interested in offering some relief to birds, here are a few easy tips you can follow.

Set up a birdbath in your yard

Water is of utmost importance to all animals, but it’s especially important when the temperatures are overwhelming. Birds need water to drink, but they also flock to water sources to cool themselves off. If you set up a birdbath on a hot day, you’ll see numerous birds walking through the water or shaking around in it.

Keep birdbaths full of water

While having a birdbath in your yard is a great first step, keeping it full of clean, fresh water is equally important. Water evaporates quickly throughout the day when the sun is bearing down, so even though you might fill it completely in the morning, by the afternoon, it could be all gone.

Add misters or fountains

Continuing on the water theme, since it’s one of the best things you can do to help the birds during a heat wave, setting up misters or small fountains will make your yard the place to be.

As stated before, birds love getting wet on hot days, and the presence of misters drastically reduces their body temperatures. It could also be fun to watch the birds play in it.

Provide shade

Another thing that really helps birds escape the heat is shade. You can offer shade to birds in a number of ways. For a long-term solution that will both yield shade and make your yard more appealing, plant trees and shrubbery. This requires more thought and care, but it’s definitely worth it. If not, place the birdbath or feeder underneath a canopy, so birds won’t be in direct sunlight.

Don’t forget food

With all the focus on water during the heat, many people forget about providing food at feeders. When the temperatures soar, birds will stay cool by being less active. If you give them easy access to fresh food, they will have to use up less energy to go searching for it.

Timothy Martinez Jr. is a writer and freelance journalist. His work has been published in The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, Remapping Debate in New York City and other publications. He’s been a bird lover since he was young and currently lives in New Orleans, L.A.

7 Comments

  1. We use old galvanized garbage lids for bird baths……….and we keep the water filled for the birds……………

  2. My birds love it when I turn on the sprinkler for them!

  3. Here in Arizona, I always keep plenty of water for the birds. I have a watering station hooked up to a hose with an automatic filler attached to a very large bowl purchased at our local feed store. This is the favorite of the numerous quail who come to visit because it is on the ground. I also have two bird baths that I have hooked up to my irrigation drip system that are filled twice a day. One of them has a mister attached and the birds have become aware of when it goes off and really enjoy it. I clean them often with the sprayer on the garden hose. I always enjoy watching them splash around and caring for their feathers afterwards. When several get in there together, it is quite a party!

  4. […] week, I gave out some tips for helping birds stay cool in heat waves, but for all those unfortunate wild birds that don’t have awesome people providing water and […]

  5. Am writing an article for All Animals magazine about DIY chilling stations for wildlife and your comments caught my eye. Let me know if you are available for an interview. Thank you!…Ruth rjohnson@humanesociety.org

  6. My research call for not more than 3 inches of water in a bird watering/bath station.

  7. Even if you don’t have a bird bath, you can still help them by pouring water with ice cubes in a spot where puddles collect. I do this at the end of the driveway for them , especially after seeing birds with open beaks. They seem to appreciate it. Had house sparrows, gold finches, the cardinal, mourning doves, and then some all bathing together within fifteen minutes. Poor little tiny guys.

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