Grass, trees, and bushes welcome birds into the yard in winter, but much more can be done to increase the bird population and their valuable services. Birds help our efforts and entertain us at the same time.
| Starlings love to splash together, and|
they are voracious bug and weed seed eaters.
As soon as the weather stays above freezing for the day. install the bird baths. They need to bathe and to preen their feathers more than they need us to provide food. Yesterday I watched the hilarious Starlings splashing around in one of the three children's pools I filled with water. I also keep a small birdbath near the house and make sure it has water for drinking.
Second to bathing is the need for nesting materials, especially the harder to find ingredients. Leaves and loose grass will always be appreciated and used. Our front yard robin wanted to run from me, but she was not giving up a beak full of dead leaves.
Two types of nesting products we can provide are:
- Twine and string strips hanging on bushes and trees.
- Dryer lint put in suet baskets and put in the same places.
The string is so valued that when our robin dropped hers from high in the tree, she zoomed down to the ground to get it and take it back up.
Birds also use fluffy materials for lining, such as pussywillows (Hummingbirds) and Dandelions full of seed. Other weeds also grow airborn seeds - like Milkweed - and serve several purposes at once. Milkweed the fluff but also feeds the Monarch butterfly larvae.
Those new to feeding will want to get the feeders out early, because birds will study them for several weeks before using them. I like feeders close to the windows so we can enjoy them close up. The birds get used to movement inside and realize the food connection between the figures inside and the seed outside. They are not ashamed to pantomime feeding when the food is gone.
Suet is still good in the cold weather, attracting the bug eaters - Starlings,Woodpeckers, Chickadees, and Grackles.
Sunflower seeds are a good overall food, best bought in large sacks.
A variety of seeds will attract more birds. If squirrels are obnoxious, Finch seed (Nyjer, aka thistle) will attract Goldfinches and House Finches without appealing to the tree rats. When Nyjer is close to Sunflower seed, the Finches will happily eat their food while the others squabble about the Sunflowers.
|Not my photo - but a good example of being shameless.|
I cannot grow Sunflowers, thanks to those cute rodents - overfed in their nearby nut trees. But I can grow lots of berries:
- Wild Strawberries bloom and fruit first.
- Pokeweed berries proliferate wherever birds roost in our yard.
- Gooseberries are ready to bear fruit this year.
- Blueberries make up one line in the backyard.
- Beautyberries were there all winter to feed birds in bad time.
- The Crepe Myrtle turned its flowers into seed, a favorite food of the Cardinals.
- Blackberries are unstoppable once they are established. I have lots of them.
- I grew some insipid Raspberries, but they can feed a few birds.