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12/18/2017
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Garden Maintenance: Feeding Winter Birds

by Jason Adams

A cardinal finds food and shelter at the neighborhood birdfeeder.

Fall and winter are perfect times to put out birdfeeders. Even if you live in a temperate climate, food may be scarce due to the increase in migratory birds that are enjoying the mild climate. Birdfeeders are particularly important when deep snow and ice may make it difficult for birds to reach natural food sources. Birdfeeders are typically covered and off the ground, and provide a stationary location where birds know food can usually be found.

Even in warmer climes, birdfeeders provide needed food.

If the birdfeeder is kept full, birds will quickly learn to make it a part of their daily food gathering routine. Bags of birdseed mix are usually inexpensive and can easily be found at most department stores, lawn and garden centers, or hardware stores. Just be sure you purchase the right mix for the birds typically seen in your yard. If you donít know which kind of seed your

birds prefer try looking them up at the library or online.

Putting out suet, which is made from fat, is an excellent high-energy food source for many birds. Nuts of any kind from your freezer or pantry will be welcomed, as well as raw hamburger will be loved by many birds in the cold weather. Save any leftover bread, cereals, and crumbs and put them out separately or mix these into the suet.

Mealworms can be obtained from your neighborhood bait shop, wild bird store, or you can even order them over the Internet. Mockingbirds, bluebirds, and other hungry birds will eagerly gobble up these insect treats.

Another way to help is by using your holiday decorations to provide bird-friendly meals. Trim a tree in your yard with suet cakes, pines cones covered in peanut butter and rolled in seeds, and dried apple circles. Strings of popcorn and berries also make eye-catching decorations, but also tasty treats. And the best part is you donít have to take down the decorations once the holidays have passed. Chances are neighboring wildlife will have beat you to it.

Donít forget that water is also very important in winter. Consider keeping a birdbath filled regularly with fresh water. If temperatures dip below freezing in your area, a heated birdbath is even better.

Following these simple suggestions will help keep the birds in your yard safe and happy all season long. Next year, when a cardinal or nuthatch lands outside your window and decides to share his song, youíll be glad you did.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

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