So in talking about birding habitat–or any habitat for wildlife–we’ve already covered food and water. And if you think about it, all living things need these–you or I wouldn’t survive for longer than a week or so without sustenance.
We’d also have to find some sort of shelter for ourselves. Birds and other wildlife need to do the same.
And in just the same way that each of us chooses different types of dwellings, birds have surprisingly different requirements when it comes to “shelter.” (I will talk about “nesting,” or places to raise young, on Friday).
If there’s a hawk or other bird of prey after them, any sort of cover will do, of course. They will duck into a shrub, a thicket, a tree with branches near a trunk or even under a rock.
But if it’s winter and they need to shelter from cold winds, evergreens are better protection for this. Evergreens on the leeward side of a building are even better (away from the prevailing winds).
These 2 pieris andromeda don’t look like much, but I have seen lots of finch, sparrows and cardinals sheltering here. It’s on the south side of my house. I suspect that my cardinals even nest here but I haven’t confirmed that.
Even ornamental grasses left standing can be protection–and can offer valuable seeds–in a pinch.
What’s important is to know the places where your birds do shelter and to try not to let things disturb them. On a cold day–or night–it costs them precious energy to fly. I try hard not to let my dog get too close my large evergreen hollies where I know that birds sometimes huddle for protection. I don’t want her flushing them out needlessly.(You’ll see these hollies in my post on nesting).
Take a look around your yard–or if you don’t have a yard, a park or other place you like to visit. Can you find the places where birds like to shelter?