I love when the birds come to visit my yard. It’s especially exciting when you get a Blue Jay or Cardinal. Those colours are so beautiful against the white, snowy backdrop. Or, in the case of this winter, the dull grass, tree stems, and muck.
But by this time of year – mid to late winter – food sources are becoming scarce for the birds that spend their winter in the Great White North. As, nature and animal lovers, we want to do all we can to help them out.
So we started a new hobby: Bird feeding and watching!
And with most good deeds, you get just as much, if not more, in return. These are the benefits we’ve had and are looking forward to once winter turns to spring.
Benefits of bringing birds to your yard
Entertainment. There is something so calming yet exciting about watching the birds at your feeders. Seeing how they interact with each other, recognizing the different birds as they return for more food, and getting to know their different personalities and food preferences, has been a wonderful experience.
Education. As the birds come, we have found ourselves wanting to know more about them. So we started researching the different types of birds, the types of foods they prefer, and what they need throughout the winter months to make life a little easier on them.
Insect control. As the weather warms, insects, worms, snails and spiders will look to reclaim residency in the yard. Of course, they all have a necessary purpose in the circle of life, but with the birds around, we hope fewer will find their way indoors. I like to think of it as organic pest control.
Blooming gardens. From organic pest control as mentioned above, to assisting with flower pollination, birds are excellent helpers in the garden. This can result in fuller flowerbeds with less effort on your part.
Weed control. Small birds such as sparrows and finches LOVE seeds, particularly those from seed-bearing flowers and weeds. By attracting these birds to your yard, they will not only indulge in the food in your feeders but also in the natural food sources. More birds, less weeds!
Attract birds to your garden with these tips
Now, there is just a bit more to the whole bird feeding thing than simply picking up a feeder and some seed. Here’s what you need to know to get the birds to come to you.
The Food. What birds do you want to come visit? You are more likely to attract blue jays with cracked corn, mourning doves with safflower seeds, and goldfinches with thistle seeds. Better yet, provide a variety of foods including nuts, suet, nectar and fruit to attract different species with different dietary needs and preferences.
The Feeder. Whether your feeder is a DIY craft with peanut butter and seeds, or a high end model, it needs to be taken care of. Feeders should be cleaned regularly, checked to ensure they are in good repair, and that the food hasn’t become moldy.
Shelter. Place feeders in areas that provide shelter from the elements as well as predators, such as in or near evergreens, white cedars and white spruces. Alternatively, put some bird houses up around the yard.
Water. Having a water element greatly increases the allure of your feeders. Whether you simply place a bowl of warm water near the feeders or invest in a birdbath (some even have a heating option to avoid freezing!), this is a proven way to attract more birds.
Nature aids us in so many ways, it is great to be able to give something back. By feeding the birds, especially in the hard winter months, you are doing just that. Just remember, once you start feeding them it is important that you keep it up. They will become dependent on it.
Now all you have to do is sit back, relax, and enjoy the colours, the songs and the view.