FOR THE BIRDS

By Debbie Roland, Master Gardener

The first real cold front has arrived.   We are probably within a few weeks of the first freeze.  When that happens the birds will be looking for the three basics – water, food, and shelter.   If you enjoy having birds in your yard in the warmer months, you may want to start taking care of them now.  You can feed all year but it is more important as natural food supplies diminish and it is more difficult for them to find food and a safe place to shelter.

It is critical that birds have fresh water.  During the winter frozen water is a problem.  There are solar heaters made just for bird waterers or you can simply replace the water when it freezes.

Supplemental bird food can be purchased just about anywhere.  I feed the wild birds at my house the same food that I feed my chickens, which is a combination of laying crumbles and scratch.   I buy a 50 pound bag of each at a local feed store for less than $15.00 a piece.

Another option is spreading peanut butter on a pinecone and covering it with sunflower seeds.   There are many other options and a quick search of the internet may give you some ideas.  It is best to feed in an open area with nearby shelter so that there is less chance of encountering a predator while the birds are eating.

I wait until late January or early February to cut my plants back so that the birds have cover to get out of the weather and feel safe.   Evergreen trees are a great place for feeding and nesting.   You can even use a recycled Christmas tree to help them get through until warmer weather is here.

Happy Gardening.

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