While we enjoy planting flowers and shrubs that the birds can enjoy during the summer, we also make sure they have plenty of food, shelter and water for the winter. Birds use more energy in the winter to stay warm and make it through the very long nights.
We put out sunflower seed since almost every bird loves that. We have also been putting out some peanuts and corn for the Blue Jays but other birds like them, too. We put those either on the ground or in our flat feeder hanging from our “bird feeding station”.
We have suet feeders and Dwayne found a ball of suet with bird seed in it at the local Fareway meat counter. Ask at your local groceries meat counter if they offer something similar. Or you can just get the suet and add the bird seed yourself. It may be a good way to get the kids involved in bird watching!
Winter or summer, songbirds love to have cover.
When predators come by they need to have a place to escape to quickly. The predators in our yard mainly come in the form of neighborhood cats and a Coopers Hawk that swings by every so often. They usually go off empty pawed or taloned, but every once in awhile we find the feathers of a bird that didn’t speed away in time.
Birds also need water during the winter. We have a heated birdbath that we attach to our deck. This keeps it fairly close to the outdoor outlet. Make sure you use an extension cord that is approved for outdoor use. The instructions that come with the heated birdbath will tell you what kind to get. We replace the water at least once a day and make sure to wipe it out every couple of days or whenever it looks like the birds have had too much fun in it.
In addition to the birdbath on the deck, we have a small tray feeder that we try to keep filled as well. The birds don’t seem to mind getting fairly close to the glass doors and the cats love it…
Make sure that you keep the feeders filled on a regular basis or the birds won’t keep flocking to your yard.
I found a nice website that includes a lot of bird feeding and watching information. You can check it out yourself by clicking here.
And the Iowa State Extension service has a nice publication on Iowa Winter Birds. Click on the name to get to it.