With the Thanksgiving holiday behind us, many Iowans are settling in for winter and getting their yards ready for the cold weather. For a growing number, that means putting out birdfeeders full of seeds. Coralville birder Ronda Wilson encourages avid bird lovers to go the next step.

Wilson says a lot of people don’t realize the importance of water to birds in winter. To survive, birds need to have exposure to shallow water that’s not frozen to drink and to bathe in daily. By putting a heated birdbath out, Wilson says you can get a huge variety of birds that wouldn’t ordinarily see at your feeder. She says this is a particularly good time of the season for watching water birds.

Wilson says most of Iowa’s waterways are still open — lakes and ponds haven’t frozen over yet, so it’s a good time of year to see ducks, geese and shore birds migrating though, while there are a broad spectrum of other birds, songbirds, that spend their winters here, from warblers and kinglets to nuthatches and chickadees. Wilson says she’s been watching birds for most of her life.

She says her dad always had an appreciation for wildlife and took her on birding hikes. Later, Wilson got involved with the MacBride Raptor Project, became passionate about birds and went on to get a Master’s degree in wildlife biology. She now runs a wild bird and nature store in Coralville, Birds Eye View. Among the many birding websites, try " www.icbirds.org " or " www.iowadnr.gov ."