[Mnbird] heated bird bath question

DONALD GRUSSING Owner cdrussin at centurylink.net
Sun Dec 16 17:13:59 EST 2018

Heated bird baths are big business. But I always wonder about them. After all, the native birds living here since the glaciers receded have been doing just fine in the winter without heated baths. Occasionally there is water to drink -- open spots in creeks, melting snow, etc., but I see the local birds eat snow, and they seem to be doing just fine as they have for thousands of years. I have seen chickadees and house finches "bathe" in snow trapped in one of last years nests. And I've never seen one of the snow bathers and eaters with frozen wings. 

Don Grussing 

From: "mnbird" <mnbird at lists.mnbird.net> 
To: "smkennedy mn" <smkennedy_mn at yahoo.com> 
Cc: "mnbird" <mnbird at lists.mnbird.net> 
Sent: Sunday, December 16, 2018 2:10:14 PM 
Subject: Re: [Mnbird] heated bird bath question 

I always thought freezing birds was a myth until one evening I picked up 6 cardinals, all unable to fly because their feathers had frozen. 

Watched them bath and flutter into the nearby lilac to preen then realizes they weren't lifting their wings. Went outside and I was able to just pick them up, including two that had jumped to the ground and one that never got up into the lilac. They literally could not extend their wings. 

I know it sounds stupid but apparently it can/does happen. 

Brought them inside in boxes and released them later after their feathers had dried. 

This was around 10 below so pretty cold. 

I now cover my bath w boards across the middle just leaving the edges for the birds to drink. 

On days like today we uncover it so they can bathe but the boards stay on once we start hitting 5° or lower. Of course the deer and squirrels tend to knock them off but they're easy to just put back on. 

Offering a bath in the winter is really important and fun, this way I feel safe about it. 

- Tami in Afton 

On Dec 16, 2018 5:45 AM, Susan Kennedy via Mnbird <mnbird at lists.mnbird.net> wrote: 
I have a very popular heated bird bath, with many species coming for a drink in the below freezing weather. This year it is very busy with the large number of robins staying the winter eating hackberries. I see that the non-native house sparrows and starlings will sometimes bathe in the very cold weather, but not the native ones. I never see frozen birds after this happens, so does this mean that they survive the bathing? It seems an odd sight in the very cold weather. 

Susan Kennedy in SW Mpls. 

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