Bird Feeding in Winter by Dave White.
We spend many hours watching and enjoying the numerous species of birds that visit our yard every day. They provide unlimited entertainment, color, activity and music. Some of the native birds frequenting our yard are finches, cardinals, titmice, bluebirds, chickadees, nuthatches, flycatchers, wrens, woodpeckers and crows. There are also many other species who stay for short periods when migrating through our area as they travel to and from their summer and winter destinations.
Everyone can experience the same enjoyment by doing a few simple things to attract birds. A bird friendly yard consists basically of three things; food, water and protective cover or shelter. Creating a garden environment with these items in mind creates a location for birds to feel comfortable and linger. Let’s explore these three requirements in more detail.
Food – Birds need to eat everyday all year. We choose to feed the birds year round to keep them in the vicinity. During the summer they eat more insects, seeds, buds, caterpillars and worms because of availability. They also like to supplement their dining experience on the seed provided in the feeders. Always buy quality birdseed which has a variety of seeds including black sunflower, white millet, cracked corn, peanuts, and safflower. Avoid birdseed containing fillers of milo or wheat. Store the seed in a cool dry place in a covered container to prevent spoilage. Some course sand nearby provides grit for the bird’s gizzards to grind the hard seeds.
Feeders – I like a squirrel proof tube feeder hung on an 8 foot steel shepherd’s hook with a suitable squirrel shield attached. Hanging a feeder from a tree encourages squirrels, possum and raccoons to visit. This is also why I no longer use a platform feeder.
Place the feeder near the edge of the woods, shrubs or garden border which offers partial protection and a place for the birds to roost while waiting their turn at the feeders. Do not locate feeders close to a window which is one of the leading causes of death to startled birds flying into them fleeing a predatory bird. Also avoid placing feeders in large open areas leaving birds vulnerable without protection of a nearby hiding place.
Water – Birds need water to survive. A birdbath with a 2 -3 inch depth provides a place for them to get a drink and bathe. It should be large enough and deep enough for water to last a couple days in the hot summer. Do not add chemicals to control algae or insects. Provide this water source all year. Position the bird bath to prevent water contamination from feeder seed or bird droppings. Clean and replace the water weekly so it does not promote mosquito breeding.
The third item for your bird friendly habitat is to provide protective cover and shelter for the bird’s security and to raise their young. Accomplish this by planting shrubs, vines and flowers such as American Beauty Berry, Hawthorn, Hollies, Viburnum, Carolina Jessamine, zinnias, asters or marigolds nearby. I also found recommended designs for bluebird houses are used by numerous native bird species.