Mid- to late summer is the hottest time of the year, and just like humans can suffer from heatstroke and other heat-related illnesses, high temperatures are also dangerous to birds. Young hatchlings and active parents that need to expend more energy to care for their broods are especially at risk, but backyard birders can do several things to help birds keep cool even on the hottest days.
- Provide multiple bird baths with clean, fresh water. Putting a bath in a shady area will keep it cool and minimize evaporation, and adding a chunk of ice or a few ice cubes in the morning will keep the bath refilled through the day.
- Offer nutritious food in large feeders that can accommodate hungry flocks. The best summer bird foods include black oil sunflower seed, nuts, fruit, jelly, and mealworms, and keeping feeders full will help parent birds have a reliable food source to feed their chicks.
- Cultivate shady landscaping with layers of broad-leafed, deciduous trees and shrubs that can provide cool shelter for birds to take advantage of. Choose plants that can do double duty as food sources, such as seed-bearing flowers or berry bushes.
- Position bird feeders and bird houses in shady areas, particularly where they will be protected from the hottest summer rays during the late afternoon. If necessary, placed pruned branches above the feeders or houses to add some shade.
- Use moving water with fountains, misters, or drippers. Not only will these serve as additional water sources for birds to drink and bathe, but the splashy noises and reflections from glittering drips will help alert birds about the water and attract them to the yard.
With just a few simple steps, it is possible to help backyard birds keep cool and enjoy their company even when temperatures are reaching toward triple digits.
Learn even more about how wild birds are adapted to keep cool in summer!