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Throughout the spring and summer, we are treated to the melodious songs and chattering conversations of a variety of birds in the trees and shrubs of our gardens, yards, and landscapes. As summer turns to autumn, then autumn to winter, the songs die down and the conversations are less frequent.
Is there a way to keep the birds around during the winter too? You bet!
Every region is blessed with a variety of non-migratory birds. With just the right tasty treats, you can draw these non-migratory birds to your yard. Food, water and protection are the three things you need to provide for your feathered friends.
When you consider feeders, have mercy on the little birds who will visit your yard. Be sure to supply tube feeders in your garden design for them, designed in such a way to keep out larger birds. Thistle feeders are a favorite of finches. Thistle socks Shepherd hooks make great thistle feeders and come in various sizes. Green feeders with weighted trap doors will keep out squirrels and crows.
When selecting food, you have a number of choices. For small birds, millet is definitely the seed of choice. Wild bird seed combinations will ring the dinner bell for a large variety of wintering feathered friends. Look for a combination that includes black sunflower seeds, as well as nuts and dried fruits. Making a combination like this available will bring in such birds as cardinals, catbirds, finches, chickadees and nuthatches.
In addition to the seed combinations mentioned above, try these ideas: spread peanut butter on pinecones. You can mix in a little bacon fat with the peanut butter and then roll the pinecone in bread or cereal crumbs. Also, string popcorn, cranberries and dried fruit and hang from a tree. Beware the squirrels will not be denied the opportunity to visit this smorgasbord!
NOTE - Before you begin feeding birds during the winter, decide up front you will do this consistently. Your feathered friends will come to rely on you for regular nourishment during the winter and may go hungry if the cafeteria suddenly closes up shop.
Water is another important concern in winter. Check with your lawn & garden center for an immersible heater. Place this in the bottom of a birdbath and it will keep the water from freezing. In addition to birdbaths, various other shallow containers can be used to offer fresh water to birds saucers, inverted trashcan lids and pie tins. Be sure to monitor the depth of the water because birds do like water that is more than two or three inches deep.
Consider also birds need shelter in the winter. Incorporate in your garden a double blessing for them by planting plants that offer food and shelter. Popular choices include pyracantha, juniper and holly, as well as Japanese barberry. Do keep in mind; the Japanese barberry is considered an invasive exotic plant, so use it with care.