I intended to write this article a month ago, but it was warm then and the subject didn’t seem important. Now it’s cold again and the seed heads I purposely left in my garden are either depleted or frozen to the ground under the weight of the snow we had a little while ago.
What am I talking about? I’m talking about feeding the birds. A few weeks ago my yard was full of woodpeckers, cardinals, blue jays, chickadees and, yes, a couple of either very tough or very confused robins, and I enjoyed watching them. There were other birds too, but I don’t know what they were. They all seemed to have plenty to eat and foraged under the leaf mulch around the bushes. Now the yard is a frozen wasteland – no birds, no squirrels, at least nothing I can see.
I haven’t put out bird feeders, but I did put out muffins that we forgot to eat, hoping to entice the little feathered darlings to come back. Well, the dog ate what she could reach and the rest sat there for a week. I didn’t see any birds, so I brushed the crumbs off into the snow.
Here are some tips from the National Wildlife Federation:
- Birds need a winter water source – set out a pan of warm water sometime during the day.
- Put out seeds, cracked corn, nuts, and suet. The added fat helps keep birds warm.
- Leave the seed heads of asters, cone flowers and other plants in the fall.
- Leave the berries and other fruit on native trees and bushes.
- Leave your fallen leaves on the ground; decaying leaf litter provides a home for insects, a feast for the birds.
- Provide shelter – evergreens, a brush pile, bird houses if you’re ambitious.
- Clean your bird feeders every 2 weeks to prevent mold and bacteria that may make birds sick.
- Rake the ground below feeders to limit accumulation of waste.
- Keep your cat indoors – it’s so much fun to watch a cat watching birds!
- Put feeders 30 feet away from windows or within 3 feet of a window to reduce deaths by window strikes…far enough away so they can avoid a strike or close enough that they can’t pick up enough speed to seriously injure themselves.
Maybe this weekend I’ll put out birdseed, or at least a pan of warm water once a day.