WEST SEATTLE WEATHER: Another below-freezing night ahead. 1 thing to do now for birds, wildlife

(Photo by Coleman Smith)

That’s an example of what our colder-than-usual weather is doing to outdoors water sources – not just drinking fountains, but also bird baths, so West Seattle naturalist Ann Anderson sent this reminder about something helpful you might be able to do before the sun goes down and the mercury heads for the 20s again (and to repeat tomorrow morning):

If you are able, please provide water for wild birds and other wildlife after an overnight freeze. This is especially important if you normally offer up a bird bath or water source that they are used to frequenting. They are depending on your consistency during these uncommon cold snaps!

Birds are particularly in need of hydration first thing in the morning when their water supply is most likely to be frozen. Few birds can peck through even a thin layer of ice, and going out to search for new, unknown resources saps valuable energy acutely needed to keep warm, When humidity takes a dive in cold weather, wildlife (like us) become somewhat parched, and once dehydrated, they are very vulnerable to cold, illness, and disease.

TO HELP: Simply pour hot water into your frozen bird bath. This quickly loosens the ice, making it easy to pop right out. Then refill it with warm water. It’s that easy, and will make a huge difference to cold, thirsty wildlife.

The forecast suggests we have at least two more below-freezing nights ahead.

8 Replies to "WEST SEATTLE WEATHER: Another below-freezing night ahead. 1 thing to do now for birds, wildlife"

  • Molly February 23, 2023 (9:35 pm)

    Warm and hot water freeze faster than cold water, so if you’re going to replace, put regular temp tap water out.  

    • Matt February 23, 2023 (10:27 pm)

      Say what now?

    • SF February 23, 2023 (11:48 pm)

      I was pretty excited to experiment with this rumor recently.  Now I have reproducible empirical evidence that bulk hot water does in fact not freeze faster than cold water.  Trust me. I’m a scientician. 

  • Ann February 24, 2023 (8:54 am)

    Always interested in knowing better or more accurate information, so thank you, Molly.  And SF, appreciate your wit! if anyone wants to go deep into the physics on this, Takamasa Takahashi, a physicist at St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin, has done significant study on it. /https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/is-it-true-that-hot-waterHe attempts a definitive answer” to this “seemingly simple question” in layman’s terms in Scientific AmericanWhile technically it can be true under certain circumstances by either evaporation or convection; it does not appear that the difference would be statistically meaningful, given the amount of surface area in relation to water volume in a standard bird bath or smaller.  However, if you have a ceramic or glass bird bath – I would be careful with very hot water directly on a cold surface, as very fast temp changes may cause it to crack. That said, whether you use hot, warm or cold water to de-ice your bird bath during a freeze – the birds will appreciate it!  

    • HL February 24, 2023 (9:51 am)

      Thank you, Ann! I have dismissed my wife’s claims that hot water freezes faster for YEARS, just eliminating that possibility with common sense. I owe her dinner AND a foot massage. 

  • Lola February 24, 2023 (9:59 am)

    We bring the hummingbird feeder in at night and put out fresh every morning.  Sometimes the birds are waiting by the window for the fresh warm stuff.  Lol. 

    • waikikigirl February 24, 2023 (11:09 am)

      “our” Hummers were waiting for me to put our feeders out too, aren’t they the best!

  • K February 25, 2023 (10:46 am)

    I put hot water on top of the ice in the birdbath and within 60 seconds a fine feathered free-for-all ensued! Thank you for this tip/reminder!!

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