in the Birds for Winter Beauty and Entertainment
By Melinda Myers
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[December 30, 2016]
Brighten your winter days by
inviting birds into your landscape. Their beauty and motion help
enliven the garden and lighten your spirit. Not only do they provide
entertainment, but also an opportunity for all ages to stay involved
with nature year-round.
Increase the number of visitors to your yard by including all the
essentials these winged visitors need; food, shelter and water.
Plants are the easiest way to bring birds into your landscape. These
natural feeders provide seasonal food and shelter for the birds.
Take a walk through your yard and look for trees, shrubs and
perennials that provide food and evergreens that provide year-round
shelter. Plan on adding a few of their favorites that provide food
and shelter and seasonal beauty you can enjoy.
In the meantime, add a few feeders. This is a great way to increase
the number and diversity of birds visiting your garden.
Place feeders in a quiet, sheltered location where you can easily
watch these visitors come and go. Avoid placing feeders too close to
plants that provide easy places for squirrels to jump onto the
feeders and cats to hide while hunting for a meal.
Select feeders to attract the type of birds you want to bring into
Tube feeders with metal ports keep the seeds fairly clean and dry
and are somewhat squirrel resistant. Feeders with short perches
attract small birds like chickadees, titmice, and finches. Those
with the perches above the feeding port are suitable for birds like
goldfinches, chickadees and pine siskins that can feed upside down.
Thistle feeders and socks have extra small openings designed to hold
the small seeds of thistle. You’ll find small songbirds like finches
feeding at these.
Suet feeders hold blocks of high energy food made of animal fat
filled with seeds and berries. They attract woodpeckers, nuthatches,
chickadees, titmice, jays and starlings.
Platform feeders attract the greatest variety of birds, but give
squirrels easy access to the seed. Plus, the open environment
subjects the seeds to spoilage from damp weather and droppings from
feeding birds. Enclosed hopper or house feeders are attractive to
most birds, but once again the seed can be exposed to the weather
Be sure to thoroughly clean the feeders monthly to avoid the spread
of disease. Cover droppings and spoiled seed on the ground with a
fresh layer of mulch.
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Add additional feeding stations by dressing up your evergreens with
bird-friendly ornaments. You can purchase seed coated ornaments or make your
own. Roll an evergreen cone in peanut butter or suet and coat with birdseed.
Coat a stale bagel with peanut butter and seed. Hang these on the tree with
colorful yarn. Add a few orange slices and strings of cranberries for added food
And once the holidays are over move a discarded holiday tree into your bird
feeding station. It provides shelter from cold winter winds and makes another
place to hang a few edible ornaments.
Keep the birds coming by adding a birdbath for a constant supply of water for
drinking and bathing. Shallow birdbaths with sloping sides and a maximum depth
of two inches in the center provide easy access for all birds. Keep the water
flowing despite cold temperatures with the help of an immersion heater designed
for birdbaths or purchase a birdbath with a built-in thermostatically controlled
And once you create a bird-friendly environment you’ll be enjoying them
year-round. Listen for their songs, watch them raise their young and thank them
for helping keep garden pests under control.
[Photo credit – Gardener’s Supply
has more than 30 years of horticulture experience and has written
over 20 gardening books, including Small Space Gardening. She hosts
The Great Courses “How to Grow Anything: Food Gardening For
Everyone” DVD set and the nationally syndicated Melinda’s Garden
Moment TV & radio segments. Myers is a columnist and contributing
editor for Birds & Blooms magazine. Myers’ web site is