How to

19 January 2017

How to Help Them Keep Warm: Birds and Gourds

As the weather in the UK stoops to lower and lower temperatures, feathered friends scurry from place to place, as they are wont to do, in search of warm, dry shelter.

Birds are not quite as well-equipped as other mammals at keeping warm in cold weather though they do have a number of regulating mechanisms to keep the body at a good temperature. One such instance is choosing a spot to roost, fluffing up their feathers and tucking the head under those feathers. Oftentimes, birds in this position huddle close to their fellows to share the warmth. Birds can find sufficient shelter by burrowing into the space between a tree and loose bark or searching for artificial cavities that offer protection from weather, wind, and precipitation.

However, during the cold night, a bird can lose a portion of its body weight as its body regulates temperature. This loss in body weight can be counteracted by replenishing it during the warm part of the day.

To help the birds stay warm this winter, why not create a shelter for them? Such things can be created with a gourd, a drill, and a few extra bits and bobs (full instructions here). After drilling an entry hole, scoop out the innards. Then it’s a simple matter of making the gourd suitable for long-term use. Brush the exterior smooth with sandpaper and sanitise the gourd in a blend of bleach and water, allowing it to totally dry. Once dry, and this is the fun part, paint the exterior of the gourd. You can decorate it any way you like! When your gourd is finally fit for habitation drill drainage holes at the bottom and a pair of hanging holes at the top.

To make your garden even more appealing, consider laying out a bird table. This provides much-needed food for birds during the cold months. Place meal worms, fatballs, crushed peanuts, dried fruit, and seeds and grains on the table. 

Jacqui Litvan

Jacqui Litvan, wielding a bachelor's degree in English, strives to create a world of fantasy amidst the ever-changing landscape of military life. Attempting to become a writer, she fuels herself with coffee (working as a barista) and music (spending free time as a raver).