Outdoor Living-Jan 2017

Fighting the winter dulls

By Ron Lazzer

Winter is a time when your yard can look a little dull and dreary. The flowers are gone, many trees are barren and there can be a lot of gray days. However, if you’ve been reading these articles over the past year you will have planted some evergreen trees or shrubs and berry plants to provide some colour. You can add more colour to your yard quickly along with a little entertainment by attracting some of the beautiful birds around your neighbourhood.

The easiest way to liven up your front or backyard is to invite our feathered friends for a visit. Birds are always looking for a free meal, especially in the winter when food is scarce. Try placing feeders at different heights and locations in your yard to attract a variety of birds. For example, Sparrows and Mourning Doves happily pick food off the ground so you can try sprinkling small seeds like Millet in an open space where they can feed and feel safe from predators. Sunflower seeds at greater heights attract Cardinals, Blue Jays, and Goldfinches to name a few. Finally, Nyjer is a tiny seed easily blown away by wind so hang it in a feeder specifically designed for this and you will attract many beautiful yellow Goldfinches to brighten your winter days.

Choose food that attracts local birds like the ones mentioned above but try to avoid mixed bird seed which often contains alot of filler that many birds don’t really like. They will discard the extra seed to the ground where it can rot and make a mess. Suet is an alternative to seed and a great way to attract larger birds like Woodpeckers and Starlings.

This is a solid fat that’s packed with concentrated energy to keep our feathered friends going through the harsh winter months. Get a suet cage that’s designed to give birds something to hold on to while feeding. It is especially important to hang this at greater heights to discourage raccoons and squirrels.

Like all animals, birds need water and during our freezing cold winter months this can be hard to find. You can buy ready made heated bird baths that keep the water from freezing. You will be surprised how many birds that aren’t attracted by the food will come by for a drink.

If you already have a feeder, that’s great. You can increase the number of birds visiting your home by adding more. If you are just starting out, be patient. It can take a little time for the birds to discover your offering and start gathering. Just keep the feeders full and you will have a whole new group of friends in no time.

As seniors, some of you may have difficulty getting outside because of snow and ice so enjoy the view from your window as the birds frolic and play in your yard. For younger families, a great way to relax is to gather near a window and chat.

You’ll love the delight on your children’s faces as they watch the birds feeding and interacting with each other. Comment on the similarities between birds and people and give your children a different perspective on life. Enjoy the show!

Ron Lazzer is the owner of Bellevue Landscaping.

If you have any questions or comments please email them to: Ron@BellevueLandscaping.ca