Heat stresses all animals, including wild birds. Follow these tips to help birds cope with excessive heat.
1. Birds need to stay hydrated just as you should. So be sure there is clean water in the bird bath. When it is very hot, water evaporates quickly. A full bird bath in the morning is most likely not going to be full in the late afternoon.
Place your bird bath in a location that is shaded during the hottest part of the day, if possible. It's also a good idea to position it far enough away from your feeders so that seed hulls and/or bird droppings, feathers, etc. will not end up in your bird bath.
Discard any dirty standing water before adding clean water. Ensure there are no mosquito wigglers (larvae)! A good shot with the garden hose should get rid of them.
Or, if the bird bath has algae in it, a good scrubbing with a stiff brush using 9 parts of plain water to 1 part chlorine bleach will do the trick. Wear rubber gloves! Be sure to rinse THOROUGHLY, and let dry. Refill with clean, clear water.
2. The area beneath your bird feeders should be free of excess seed hulls. If the seed hulls are dry, I rake them into my garden area, which is close to the feeders, once a week. I use the bow rake to mix them with the soil.
If the seed hulls are wet or moldy, rake them up and discard them so they will not cause disease or parasite problems, which can accelerate in hot weather.
3. Cut back on the amount of seeds you add to your feeder each day. Try to gauge how much is actually being eaten. In other words, don't fill the feeders as you would in the wintertime. Excessive heat may cause the oils in the leftover seeds to turn rancid if left in feeders. Make sure there are enough nutritious seeds to keep your birds happy, but don't overdo it!
4. Do use the best bird seeds you can afford. Avoid 'summer' mixes packaged with 'filler' seeds that will only end up on the ground uneaten. The increased activity necessary to hunt for good food adds to birds' metabolic rate. The metabolic rate increases the heat buildup in their bodies.
So if there is a ready source of nutritious food, birds will be able to stay cooler. It's the same with humans. I would rather go to a restaurant than spend time in a hot kitchen making my own meal!
5. Consider planting a few evergreen shrubs or trees. These will add sources of shade to your yard as well as a cool retreat for the birds. An added bonus is that evergreens provide year-round shelter as well as nesting opportunities for your backyard birds.
Take time in the cooler part of the day to watch your wild birds. Listen to their songs, observe their behavior and you will naturally de-stress.
Taking good care of your feathered friends during times of stress, whether in extreme heat or cold, will ensure healthy and strong new generations. I say the more industrious and beautiful wild birds there are in our world, the better!