February 6, 2014
Winter Backyard Birding
Published by Bucks Country Gardens in Lawn & Garden
Have fun enjoying nature…
I have been feeding the birds since I was a little girl with my mother, who taught me to love the hobby of taking care of our feathered friends. We would make a feeding station with a pinecone and put peanut butter on it and then roll it in birdseed. Put a string on it and bingo, it was a feeder for a variety of birds! We had lots of fun making the bird feeders. Then, one day the squirrels found our source of food and that was it for the birds. We went through lots of feeders until we found that squirrels didn’t like to spin nor the taste of safflower or thistle seeds. And then came the Squirrel Buster Feeder–it was awesome! That took care of everyone: the birds and those pesky squirrels!
Now I have my own backyard and still love to make sure there are several feeding areas for my birds. I always start my morning by looking out my kitchen window to see who is at the feeder first. In the winter months, it seems to be the Juncos. I fill my feeders with Black Oil Sunflower seed as it attracts many species of birds: Juncos, Sparrows, House Finches, Yellow Finches, Chickadees, Titmouse and more. Aside from the feeding stations, we also put seed on the ground or a ground platform for birds that don’t feed at tube feeders, like Cardinals, Blue Jays, Crows and Blue Birds. These birds also enjoy berries and nuts. The Blue Birds have been eating the berries off my Cedar trees, but I also put out a fruit and nut feed. These birds certainly do brighten up a dull, wintery day.
This winter weather it has not made it easy for all birds to eat, so I also have a few suet cages out. There are several tasty flavors to choose from, which is nice for the birds. One of my favorite birds who visits the suet feeder, is a small Downy Woodpecker.
Back in early January when we had a warming trend (that seems like forever ago!), I saw about fifty Robins on my back lawn. They can winter-over if there is enough food. Generally, they prefer to eat earthworms but since they cannot get them this time of the year, they switch to eating fruit and berries from trees. They will also eat mealworms if you put them out in a birdbath on a sunny day. Speaking of birdbaths, birdbaths with heaters are a good source of water for all the birds. Believe it or not, a bath for clean feathers is ideal so the birds don’t lose their insulating properties. My mother always told me: “A clean bird is a warm bird.”
So get out and enjoy the sights Mother Nature can provide in your own backyard (and enjoy these photos from mine!), even when the weather is not so nice.
Spring will come…
Nancy McIlvaine | Dry Goods Manager