Month: February 2017

Helping Winter and Early Birds

Helping Winter and Early Birds

If your garden appeals to you year round, it probably appeals to your feathered neighbours, too.

8-waxwingsMany of the birds people long to see and also help during the winter and early spring are seed eaters. You know them, you love them; northern cardinals, American Goldfinches, chickadees, blue jays woodpeckers – the list goes on and on.

 

Happily for gardeners, these birds often prefer the seeds of some of the most common backyard plants. Well known favourites are sunflowers, purple coneflowers, zinnias, coreopsis and black-eyed Susan.

Front yard, backyard, container – it doesn’t matter. To entice birds to your place have feeders, flowers, water and trees and shrubs for shelter. Group them all together and you’ll have a winning combination.

Plant these garden favourites in spring. Sunflowers and many other annuals are easy to start from seed at the beginning of the growing season. For perennials you might spend a little extra money on established plants, but they’ll attract birds all year round.

Many of the plants birds enjoy are native which means they offer more than beauty. Most of them provide nectar for hummingbirds and bees, attract butterflies, have fruit for overwintering species and are low maintenance.

Resist the urge to deadhead the spent flower heads as they dry out in the fall. Leave them up, and before you know it the birds will be swooping in for the seeds, especially during hard and unusual winters.

Even in gardens that are full of bird attracting plants, it’s always a good idea to keep a bird feeder well stocked for those times when the snow is deep or the ground is frozen solid. Black oil sunflower seeds are relished by most species, even insect eaters. Hanging out a suet feeder and a tube feeder with Niger seed will cover all the basics. Be sure to check water sources daily in cold weather since ice forms quickly.

All the effort will say “Welcome” to the birds.