Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Tips for helping chilly critters

Visiting birds and wildlife are a treat in the winter! Colorful cardinals and bright bluejays can add signs of life to an otherwise drab winter landscape. Chickadees, titmice, wrens and other small birds can provide plenty to see through the windows from the comfort of your own warm winter roost.

If you are one of the many gardeners who have discovered the joys of the birds and other wildlife that visits an eco-friendly yard, than you may be wondering if there are any special steps you can take in the winter for your birds and other garden visitors. I know its not really winter yet, but there is no doubt that baby, it's COLD outside.

Here are some tips to help our feathered and furred friends during the cold months ahead:

1) Provide fresh water: Wildlife may find their regular water supplies frozen. You can help by providing birdbaths and keeping the water ice-free.  

2.) Switch to high-protein foods: Suet and peanuts are great high-energy foods for winter bird feeding.

3) Keep their safety in mind: Although it is always important to provide shelter and keep pets away from visiting wildlife, it is more important in the winter when many species of birds and other wildlife are concentrating on surviving the cold and aren't as focused on evading predators.

4) Create Cozy Winter Roosts: In winter, some cavity dwelling birds will use nest boxes to stay warm.

5) Make your own feeders: Roll a pine-cone in peanut butter and then dip in birdseed for an attractive, inviting holiday feeder.

If you have not yet discovered the pleasures of gardening for wildlife, attracting these winter visitors can be as easy as hanging a suet feeder and putting out a birdbath.

Here are plenty of articles to help get you started:

Top 10 Foods for Winter Feeding, Birdwatcher's Digest
Top 10 Winter Feeder Mistakes to Avoid, Birdwatcher's Digest
Top 10 Things to Do in Winter, Birdwatcher's Digest
Backyard Wildlife Habitats, Virginia Cooperative Extension
Winter Bird Feeding, Wild Birds Unlimited
Maryland's Wild Acres Program
Virginia Habitat for Wildlife
Garden for Wildlife, National Wildlife Federation
Winter Ritual: Building the Brush Pile

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