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Feeding the winter birds is an interesting, useful and humane habit



Published: Sat, December 1, 2018 @ 12:00 a.m.

CHRISTMAS FOR THE BIRDS

By Hugh G. EARNHART

Ohio certified volunteer naturalist

The scrooge phrase that “Christmas is for the birds” can have a wonderful interpretation if you pose the question, “why not have a Christmas tree for the birds?”

In your garden, you can start by trimming the branches with dried fruit, suet and, as a special plum pudding, tie on some packages of bird treats that attract winter’s birds.

Feeding the winter birds is an interesting, useful and humane habit. But don’t start it if you don’t intend to keep it up. The birds learn very quickly and soon depend on a meal in your yard when the cold and snow envelop the environment.

Some bird-watchers save special seeds all summer to attract special fine feathered fellows to their window sill in winter. Be sure to keep water for the birds in pans that can be brought inside to be thawed out. This is one of the birds’ chief needs when everything is frozen.

Grit or sand is another item hard to find in the frozen tundra of winter so have a little fine poultry grit mixed with sand accessible for them.

A supply of sunflower, peanuts, fruit, thistle, cracked com, safflower and millet seed, supplemented with table scraps, will provide the food matter very nicely. Suet wired to a branch is welcome by the colorful flickers, blue jays and woodpeckers.

Though it is nice to regale birds with breadcrumbs and cereal, natural foods served naturally are a more beneficial and permanent satisfaction.

Seed heads of sunflowers, zinnias, cosmos, marigolds and other common flowers of the garden are granaries quickly found and resorted to all winter by many birds that winter in our horticultural zone.

The time to convince the birds that they have a good buffet for food is early in the late fall before they are driven by hunger to seek food in other places. This is also the time to tutor them to feed from your window sill and insure their companionship throughout the winter.

If a Christmas tree for the birds is too much, make a wreath and decorate it with the bird’s favorite food.

Visit http://go.osu.edu/birdfeeding for more on getting starting with bird feeding.

For a list of all the various birds that you could attract to your backyard, and details about the foods they like, plan to come to our workshop Sunday. The class is free.

Details are at http://go.osu.edu/bestbirdfeeding.


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