Preparing Backyards and Balconies for Birds This Winter
As the winter draws near, it is a perfect time to set up your backyard for your winter visitors! Here are 5 tips to make sure your backyard is ready for birds this winter:
1. Think Food. Feeders in the winter provide an extra energy source for birds that stay in the area during winter. Provide a number of feeder styles and types of feed (sunflower, suet, thistle, unsalted peanuts, or sliced fruit) to attract many different birds to your yard. Feeders can also be easily attached to windows using suction cups. Place feeders where they are sheltered from predators and weather, and clean feeders regularly. Small space? No problem! Some feeders are available with a suction cup attachment that can be stuck right to the window!
2. Don’t remove dead flower heads in the autumn. Don’t cut back old annual or perennial plants. The seed heads that are left in place on plants such as coneflowers, sunflowers and thistle will provide a lasting source of seed for finches and sparrows.
3. Provide cover. Birds need shelter from harsh conditions, and vegetation in your yard will help to furnish it. Don’t prune back dead vegetation like vines and stalks – these provide both valuable winter cover and nesting material for birds in the spring. Balconies have a special opportunity to attract nesting birds as they provide great shelter.
4. Add habitat in your backyard in the form of a brush pile, which may attract foraging birds and mammals, and even over-wintering reptiles, amphibians and insects.
5. Think ahead to next winter by planning for spring planting. Choose species that are native to your area. Good sources of winter food for birds include rosehips of wild roses, the berries of sumac and dogberry, the seeds of maples and birches, and perennials like black-eyed susans.