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Garden Solutions - January 2015

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Local Blogs - Hillermann Nursery & Florist
Tuesday, 06 January 2015

It is hard to say who benefits more from backyard bird feeders - the birds or the people who feed them. Some of life's more enjoyable moments include the songs and antics of the birds outside our windows. Watching them is so captivating that it can alter an entire day's plans, turning a twenty-minute breakfast into a three-hour brunch. Activity at your feeders probably can hold your attention all day with its ever-changing pattern of form and color, from fluffed-up chickadees to sleek cardinals.

Often the brightest spot on the winter landscape, with the most activity, is the bird feeder in the backyard. No matter what size yard or garden you have, you can create your own bird haven. All you need are food, water, and shelter. Shrubs and evergreens are good, not only to offer cover during harsh northern winters, but also to protect birds from their natural enemies. They also provide safe nesting sites in the spring.

Whether you are just beginning or greatly expanding your bird-feeding program, give careful consideration to making it easy and fun for the whole family. If the feeders are hard to reach, the bags too heavy for the kids to maneuver, or the birdbath too far from the hose, pretty soon someone will lose patience and object to being involved.

Hang different types of feeders at different heights and near enough to your house so you can watch the birds at relatively close range. You can use empty coffee cans and homemade funnels (cut the bottom off a large soft drink bottle) for feeder-filling convenience. Don't be discouraged if you have just put up a new feeder and the birds don't flock to it immediately. Because birds recognize food by sight, it can take a while for them to locate a new source. Try putting aluminum foil on the ground underneath the feeder to reflect the sunlight. If you already have other feeders, put the new one nearby until the birds discover it. Bird feeding activity attracts other species, so when you add a specialty feeder (such as a thistle feeder for finches) to your feeding station, it probably will not take long for new birds to find it.

Open water in freezing weather will attract as many, or more, birds as a well-stocked feeder! Birds use it to help keep them warmer in winter! By cleaning their feathers and then grooming them with natural oils, our feathered friends are able to help insulate their bodies from cold. You can keep the water thawed with a submersible heater placed directly in the water; it is economical and safe as long as you use a high quality, outdoor extension cord to plug the heater into an electrical source. As a firm believer in providing water year round, there are many options on the market to suit the need.

Remember that, for the sake of the bird's health, it is always important to keep the feeders and the ground beneath them cleaned up of old seed that can harbor disease. So fill your feeders and enjoy the show!

Once you have your feeders set up and can enjoy the show, begin planning your spring gardens. Garden seeds of all types are available and you will soon be able to start seeds inside to get a jump on the season. There is nothing better than seeing things grow! Start your planting and planning your passion today.

See you in the garden...
Sandi Hillermann McDonald


Articles posted to the Local Blogs section are the opinions of the authors and not necessarily that of or WASHMO Media, LLC.

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