Spring, summer, and even early autumn are seasons when birds usually have no trouble seeking out food, water, shelter, but during the snowy, freezing months, life can be difficult for feathered friends. While your garden provides their needs from spring through the fall, you can still help residential birds during the cold season by offering a few essentials to help them brave the elements.
The following are a few tips to create bird friendly winter gardens.
Water Sources are Critical
Many fans of wildlife are quick to put out food, but often forget that water is essential and often difficult for animals to find in the winter. Natural water sources like ponds, rivers and streams are great but they often freeze and even dry up in the winter, making it tough for birds to utilize them as a source of hydration. For your bird friendly winter garden, consider adding a bird bath. You don't need to fill it up completely, particularly when you know it will freeze in cold temperatures, it is important to keep an eye on it and add water when needed. Bird baths are a great way to provide fresh water and attract many birds to your garden. You may even decide to place it in a prominent spot where chipmunks, deer, and other wildlife can take advantage of it. You can leave the bird bath up all year, just be sure to keep it clean.
Provide Various Feeding Opportunities
A sturdy, weather-resistant bird feeder with a healthy mix of bird seed is a must for your winter garden to help supplement the diet of all types of birds. Beyond that, winter plants like Winterberry Holly, Virgina Creeper, Staghorn Sumac, and others can provide berries and fruit that birds find especially appealing. Trees are a good source of food, as well. Evergreen trees can provide seeds from cones, and crab apple trees also offer fruit and seeds. Many gardeners prefer planting shrub-like plants as they are smaller and easier to maintain than trees. When you are choosing plants for your garden, remember to do your research and go native. Talking with a specialist at your local nursery can help determine which ones will be best for your particular garden.
Sheltering Residential Birds
Along with being excellent food sources, plants, shrubs, and trees can offer shelter to birds. They can help keep birds safe from inclement weather and wind. In addition, you can offer other forms of shelter such as brush piles, yard waste, or a birdhouse. You may even want to offer a roost box or nest box to keep the birds safe and warm.
A winter garden is a safe haven for birds as it offers plenty of food and shelter even in the coldest months of the year. It also provides hours of enjoyment for you as you spot your feathered friends taking advantage of your beautiful winter garden!