|Photo: Jesse Butt, CWF photo club member|
How make your garden a cold-weather refuge
Winter imposes demanding energy requirements on resident birds. When resources are limited, a little love from your backyard can go a long way to help. Consider the following
Plant for the birds
Attract a variety of wintering birds to your yard by planting native trees and shrubs for both seed- and fruit-eating birds. Shrubs that provide fruit into the winter months, such as hollies and roses, have hips rich in vitamin C and will attract species such as waxwings and cardinals. Trees that store their seeds in catkins or cones, like birches and spruce, will attract species including ruffed grouse and crossbills. For an all-round crowd pleaser, plant sumac. Its fuzzy, red fruit help an array of species.
Providing a supplemental food will help ensure birds have enough energy to stay warm. Calorie-rich black sunflower seeds and preservative-free suet are great choices. Place feeders at different heights to attract different species. Platform feeding areas attract jays and grosbeaks, while titmice and finches enjoy hanging feeders. Ground feeders like mourning doves and juncos will take care of any seeds that fall from elevated feeders.
Make a pile
Create a brush pile in a corner of your yard using branches and garden clippings. This will provide shelter to keep foraging birds safe from predators and harsh weather. Once your holiday celebrations are through, retire your Christmas tree to the birds’ brush pile.
Join the count
Take your bird-watching hobby to the next level and join the annual Christmas Bird Count. The information gathered is used to generate long-term data on population dynamics and the health of North American birds. To find a “count circle” near you, visit the Bird Studies Canada website (www.bsc-eoc.org) and follow the Volunteer Programs link to the Christmas Bird Count.