Bells and horns may have announced the New Year for you, but how do our backyard guests know a New Year has arrived? They really don’t, unless you make your garden a welcome winter haven! Many beautiful birds from northern habitats head to our Northshore gardens to start their New Year in a more hospitable climate.
Maybe you have seen nuthatches, pine siskins, black-capped chickadees, tufted titmice, a warbler or two, and even a dark-eyed junco! We are blessed year round with cardinals, sparrows, doves, crows, robins and lots of woodpeckers. How do you make your garden the best winter haven for native birds and visitors?
• Provide different feeders and keep them clean and functional. Suet feeders are great for woodpeckers and other insect feeders. A flat hanging platform is great for perchers and also serves as a place to smear a little peanut butter. Mealworms in bowls are nice for bluebirds, and don’t forget a mesh sock for the finches! Remember that wet or spoiled seed will encourage pests or sicken birds, so store seed properly and give the feeders a weekly cleaning!
• Fruit trees, nectar-producing flowers and insects are natural sources of bird food. They may not be readily available all winter, but they will let birds know you have a friendly place for them to come in search of food.
• Hummingbirds may have already headed further south, but they will return soon, so clean their feeders and have them ready at the first sign of spring thaw.
• Keep bird baths free of leaves and filled. If temperatures drop below freezing, pour hot water over the ice.
• Bird houses provide a safe nesting place for winter birds. Nail one to a tree at a height where you can clean out last year’s debris.
A great New Year activity would be to start a garden journal with dates and citings of your winter guests. Also note the frequency of feeding and places visited in your garden. Make a resolution to make 2018 your best and most fulfilling year ever in your garden!
Email your gardening questions to Lisa at firstname.lastname@example.org.