Major spring snowstorms make life difficult for small migratory birds, but a Manitoban expert says most of them should survive through this return to winter weather.

Dennis Fast is a wildlife photographer and avid bird watcher. He notes many migratory birds had already returned to Manitoba when last week’s Colorado low hit. Fortunately, he notes the storm wasn’t too severe and most species should make it through just fine.

"They are amazingly resilient, it is surprising what [food] they can find on plants that are sticking out through the snow. Right now, I know a lot of people are feeding birds, we are feeding birds, but they basically can survive by and large naturally."

That said, Fast says he can recall a number of times when conditions were particularly nasty.

"One blizzard quite a few years ago that was about three days long as well, a lot of birds were found dead. It is brutal and I know that even the Juncos which are tough, I had a student come in and tell me that over 100 had died in their machine shed where they had come for shelter after a three-day blizzard and they just didn't make it."

Fast notes these small birds run into trouble when they aren’t able to find enough food to build up their energy reserves. He notes this can be especially challenging after a long migration.

For the most part, Fast says we don’t need to worry about the birds making it through winter weather, however, we should be concerned about another phenomenon.

"Right now, what is worrying the whole bird world is the fact that the Avian Flu is spreading. They are extremely worried about poultry and those kinds of birds catching it from wild birds. There is a suggestion that you should certainly not have too many dirty feeders around and not feed too much."

Some organizations have gone so far as to say it may not be a good idea to have any bird feeders or baths at all this year as they can help spread the avian flu.