Winter in the northern U.S. is not for the faint of heart, and that's especially true of the songbirds that don't migrate to colder climates. Here are four birds that have managed to not only thrive, but also to deploy some ingenious ways to outsmart the brisk winds and lack of food.
This visitor from the Arctic knows how to survive in some of winter’s toughest conditions. If you see a flock of these small red-tinged birds in your neighborhood, be on the lookout for holes in the snow. These tunnels serve as insulated shelters to shield them from the wind and cold, and keep them safe from predators. As a bonus, they might even access some delicious seeds near the frozen ground!
Chickadees have quite the winter survival mechanism. When they sleep on cold nights, they lower their body temperature. This lets their bodies conserve energy, so they won’t have to leave the safety of their roost to search for food at 2 a.m. Nor do they have to bulk up with a layer of fat, which would impede their flight. They hide away at night, but you might notice them shivering by day. This is also another one of their methods of keeping warm.
Most birds that live on insects migrate to warm places for the winter. But the Golden-crowned Kinglet has cracked the code. They survive on moth caterpillars that hibernate while fastened to pine trees, camouflaged as twigs. So if you amble past a stand of conifers on a winter walk, look for a flock of kinglets, foraging for their next meal.
If you pride yourself on your planning prowess, you’ll find much to appreciate in the Canada Jay. This bird starts nesting in February, even if it's 20 below Fahrenheit. But not to worry, they maintain a large winter food pantry, thanks to a clever method where they stick food all over the tree branches, so they have enough calories to feed themselves and their young brood.