Birds needs some love from their human neighbors this winter

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Data pix.

We hear and see them everywhere.

Birds may be one of your favorite things about wild Oklahoma, but winter can be hard on our feathered friends.

"A lot of your ground nesting birds, quail in particular, rarely die from exposure," said Wade Free, assistant director with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. "It's from starvation. That has to do with availability of seeds."

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is concerned, specifically about ground dwelling birds.

"Everything is encapsulated in a sheet of ice, so they can't get to it," Free said. "So, they're essentially out there every day that it's total ice cover without food."

Field reports done by the department say it's too early to tell if the ice storm hurt the bird population.

The good news is quail hunting season seems to be going great.

"It's been the best quail season in 20 years, and now what is this ice going to do to them?" Free said.

While feeding wildlife can be harmful in some cases, feeding the birds can be lifesaving.

"Any feed could be scattered for them - corn, whole corn. They would eat that up," said Kaye Cohn, owner of Wild Birds Unlimited. "Or, you can also put out black whole sunflower seeds, so people can put that out."

And, having a good habitat is imperative.

"When you get a big ice storm like this, they've got some good canopy cover at ground level to get under for thermal reserves to stay warm," Free said. "They'll do okay as long as they can get to that food inside of five days."

Scattered feed will also be appreciated by lesser prairie chickens and pheasants.

It’s something to keep in mind in case of another deep freeze this winter.

Wild Birds Unlimited also says water can be scarce during the winter months, so keep fresh water around for the birds to drink.

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