Birds need access to food and clean water, especially when it's cold.

You can help your neighborhood birds in their time of need. It can be something as simple as putting out a bowl of fresh water and a bowl of seed on your patio table. Or you may wish to go further and hang a birdfeeder or install a heated birdbath.

Birds need both fat and protein in their diets. There are various mixes of seed to attract various types of birds. Unsalted sunflower seeds suit almost all birds, but there are many wild bird mixes that blend a variety of seeds and grains. 

Suet, which is made from fats, helps birds maintain their body heat and energy levels during cold weather. You may wish to provide both a seed feeder and a suet cake feeder.

Birdfeeders differ substantially. Many are designed to thwart squirrels. Both seed mixtures and suet cakes can be altered with hot sauces that squirrels dislike. Birds, oddly enough, are oblivious to the hot pepper additives.

Birds need water for drinking and bathing. Dirty feathers are inefficient; they can't be fluffed properly to keep out the cold. 

If you already have a birdbath, it can be modified with a heater to keep in open in cold weather. Birdbaths with built-in heaters are also available. All you have to do is fill them regularly and scrub them out periodically.

If you position feeders and baths near a window or patio door, you'll enjoy watching the varieties of birds that appear. 

You'll also get the satisfaction of helping wild creatures make it through the winter in good health.