As we approach the holiday season, I wanted to remind parents and grandparents alike that teaching our children and grandchildren to respect and enjoy nature is one of the greatest gifts of lifetime joy we can give. Whether it’s birds, bugs, butterflies or reptiles, almost every back yard can be alive with amazing discoveries — we simply have to give our children the encouragement and tools to explore and enjoy and learn from them.
It’s hard to say who benefits more from backyard bird feeders – the birds or the people who feed them. Some of life’s more enjoyable moments include the songs and antics of the birds outside our windows.
Often the brightest spot on the winter landscape, with the most activity is the bird feeders in our backyard. Many people who feed birds are not bird watchers. They are kindhearted folks who know that life is a little more uncertain for birds in the winter and they want to lend a hand. So… for those of you who enjoy that steady cast of wild birds that will visit our yards during the colder winter months, here’s a list of “tips” to increase your enjoyment of winter bird feeding!
• High-energy suet is probably one of the most important offerings you can present to your birds in winter. Suet is a quick source of energy and a great way to substitute for the protein rich insects that are hard to find in winter.
• A source of fresh water is vital to birds in winter. Offering fresh water in your backyard will double the amount of birds you can enjoy during the colder months.
• Birds need plenty of roosting places during the winter to stay warm. Don’t remove your birdhouses in the winter. Leave them up so birds can use them for shelter from the cold.
• Many ground feeding birds will welcome seed sprinkled on the ground where it is easily found.
• Bird feeders are at their busiest in the winter. Suet and seeds disappear quickly. Seed eaters like chickadees, titmice, jays, nuthatches and sparrows are in their element now. This is a great time to add a new bird feeder to your yard. A platform feeder is a good choice.
• Winter guest will never tire of black oil sunflower seed. Black oil has a high percentage of meat and is a very nutritious source of high quality protein. It has a thin papery shell which makes it easy for smaller birds like chickadees and nuthatches to open and enjoy. This seed also boasts a high concentration of oil which is especially important in the winter. Birds will use their oil glands to spread the oil over their feathers to keep them buoyant, dry and warm
• Don’t forget about the other wildlife. Put out dried corn on the cobs or cracked corn for deer, squirrels and chipmunks. They will also appreciate apple pieces.
Remember, feeding wild birds in the winter is a great way to give something back to the wonders of nature that we enjoy year around. Our feathered friends will benefit and so will you and your family! Merry Christmas every one!!