The answer to the question above is, yes, birds can and do eat snow, when a heated bird bath is not available.
Watch this video and you will be convinced you need a bird bath, because the birds seem to derive sheer pleasure from open water.
Birds eating snow does bring hardship to their bodies. Here is why:
It requires a strong, healthy bird to sustain life
in below freezing winter climates.
We can supply open water for wild birds in northerly regions for the same reason we supply them with seed in bird feeders.
Not only for our enjoyment but to give them a better chance at life.
Some birders are of the opinion that open water for drinking in winter helps a birds existence more than putting out seed.
It is a way to help tip the chance of survival back in the birds favour as we do so many other things that cause them harm.
To place in your existing bird bath.
Especially during winter weather. Smaller birds will need to feel secure and not fear they will slip into deep water. This can easily be accomplished by placing a flat stone or some pebbles in the bird bath. (If you purchase decorative pebbles from a store, wash and rinse them thoroughly to remove any chemical coating.)
Heated bird baths for wild birds are especially important in colder climates where the risk of water freezing is present.
We know wild birds have survived for decades without the aid of heated bird baths.
So why bother now, some people may ask?
Backyard bird watchers have changed the habits of wild birds over the last century to some degree by bird feeding during the winter.
This has caused some wild birds to remain in areas where they used to migrate away from to warmer climates.
The need to migrate principally pivots on food supply. (Not solely though, as not all birds of a particular species have changed their migratory patterns. Some continue to migrate as their species used to even though the food supply is present now in the northern areas with bird feeders.)
With some planning and care you will enjoy the thrills of watching more wild birds in your winter backyard with heated bird baths.
Remember birds are easier to attract and come in more abundant numbers when served a source of drinking and bathing water.