Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body,
but rather to skid in broadside, totally worn out & proclaiming “Wow, What a Ride!”

Thursday, January 14, 2016

thursday's garden ~ what birds want

Birds always seek food, and in winter it is more important to help them through this cold weather. Their high body temperatures (around 105 degrees) create a demand for steady, quality fuel, especially in winter when they have to eat more to stay warm. Small birds face the biggest challenges. To stave off deadly cold, kinglets huddle together to sleep. Hummingbirds lower their body temperatures and enter a torpor to conserve energy and heat. You don’t have to live in the forest to be close to such activity. I live in urban Southern California and my feeders are swamped with winged life.

Many birds adapt to humans; some evolve to exploit us. However, for “every” kind of bird there are a few things that winter birds want from us:

Set out trays of seeds and hang seed baskets and suet to trees. The chickadee that breaks winter’s silence with its call meets up to 20 percent of its dietary needs with such offerings. In many places, larger hummingbirds stay through winter and benefit from sugarwater dispensers. A shop like Wild Birds Unlimited can suggest foods for birds in your area.  If you are lucky enough as I am and have one in your area, it is highly recommended you visit the store.

Natural seeds
Leave seed heads in place after frost and "resist" the urge to cut back on everything in fall. Let snow lie; it’s insulation. Juncos and towhees find refuge in recesses under snow-covered vegetation. Keep field edges scruffy with hedgerows. Allow leaf fall to stay and compost on the ground, it is healthy for plant roots and for our garden friends.

If you have the opportunity to live in an area that snows, birds eat and bathe in the snow, but they lose precious energy converting it to life-sustaining fluid. A birdbath gently heated or kept circulating so that it doesn’t freeze, will attract a crowd. I place mine so the sun warms it in the afternoon, that is when I get to most activity.

Hummer Nesting Material

Nest boxes, standing dead trees, and brush piles give birds roosting places out of the cold.  I also hang a basket with some “pure” cotton in it so they can gathered some extra insulation to pack into their nests. Wild Birds Unlimited also has the correct material and even the holders. Make sure not to use just any material, it could contain harmful ingredients. more info on Nesting Material-see below

you can see where the
birds are using the cotton
to line the nest.
a hidden nest, ☺

Native Plants
Your state’s department of natural resources has information on the vegetation that birds have long relied on. Their seeds and berries and the insects they support are birds’ main food in winter. And many will build nests within the branches, make sure to check before trimming. 

Composed of all natural fiber that has not been treated with chemicals, Hummer Helper Nesting Material takes the place of spider webs and lichen in lining the nests of everyone's favorite tiny marvels: hummingbirds. This isn't just a great opportunity for hummingbirds; goldfinches, titmice and other birds also use it. When used with this particular tray you don't have to worry when it rains, it is designed to let the material dry without fearing mildew and other problems. Mine hangs until it is all gone, then refilled. Winter when I know it will be wetter, I only fill it a third, and keep an eye on it and refill more often.

 and... don’t forget some fruit, during winter birds need the vitamins that fruit offer. I hang an orange slice in this hanger and flip it over after a day or two for them to nibble on the other side. they love it! I have bowls of seeds that get filled every day. And the jays have their special Peanut Bowl too.

 I love using basket hangers with seed blocks and suet, and my little winged friends love it too. I have a special treat for them during winter to add a little protein into their diets. Meal worms, this really is the best way to offer these.  Our resident woodpecker...goes “wild” when this gets put out. 

remember, just because it is winter, it does not mean your birds will disappear. especially not if you offer them a wonderful place to live.

one of my favorites~ white capped sparrow

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