Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Water for the Birds
With temperatures consistently below freezing, the outside of our chicken coop has become littered with big "ice bowls", which are like ice cubes but bowl-shaped. We give the chicken and duck fresh water, it freezes up, then later in the day we cast out the frozen remains and refill the bowls. A heated water dish would involve running a long cord out to the coop. One post that made me feel better about not having a heated bowl can be found here. It also makes me feel better about not having covered every last crack where the wind can get in. Warmth is less important than adequate ventilation, as long as the coop isn't drafty.
I periodically search the internet for a solar water heater for birdbaths or chicken coops, but no luck thus far. Seems like there should be a system in which a small solar panel hooks up to a heating element in the winter, and a water fountain for an outdoor pond in the summer.
Wild birds are apparently either getting water from the snow and frozen berries, which requires expending their own energy to do the melting, or heading down to the local stream. It drives home the importance of "daylighting" urban streams, which have often been buried and are therefore not accessible for birds to take a winter's drink.