The Conservation Science Coordinator with Nature Conservancy of Canada in Saskatchewan says little birds have two things to worry about during a cold snap: getting enough food to eat and not getting eaten themselves.
Sarah Ludlow says birds that stick around in the winter are the ones able to survive on seeds like sparrows, nuthatches and chickadees.
However, those needing insects to live are the ones which head south for the winter.
“If you think about a chickadee, their average body temperature is 41, 42 degrees. So if they drop their temperature to 32 or so, they’ll be able to save energy,” she says. “The downside to that is that then they’re more susceptable to predators because their reaction time is a lot slower.”
Saskatchewan has experienced a couple of brutal cold snaps this winter and Ludlow says an option for helping those birds make it through the winter is making sure the bird feeders stay topped up. she says when you see the trees dotted with little puffballs – that are actually birds – that’s how they keep warm but some also lower their metabolism.