How have the birds been handling the winter? The few birds that stay in this cold climate during the winter weren’t fazed by this winter’s levels of snow and cold weather, says Bob Fisher, president of the Illinois Ornithological Society. “To some extent it may be a non-event. They may have found a food source that was adequate for survival. They’re pretty tough creatures; they can survive pretty well, they can handle cold weather as long as they’re getting enough to eat,” he said.
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What do they eat when the ground is covered with snow? They’ll eat spider eggs found in tree bark, they’ll eat hibernating insects, and they come to bird feeders, but they aren’t dependent on them, Fisher says. Waterfowl have struggled to find bodies of water that aren’t iced over. They’ve been gathering along barge routes. Illinois sees 200 types of birds throughout the year; most migrate south, spending the winter as far away as Central and South America. Some birds come to Illinois in the winter from places north, such as Wisconsin, Minnesota and Canada.