November 22-It is getting cold here in Western MA. The birds are running out of natural food sources and water is freezing over in places now. There a couple of things you can do to attract birds to your yard now and help them to survive the colder temperatures. My first suggestion is to BE LAZY! Don’t rake up all the leaves and deadhead your plants. The birds will find the bugs that hide under the leaves and eat the seeds off the dead flowers! The second thing is a heated birdbath. These allow the birds to drink water AND keep their feathers clean, both of which are critical to their survival. Scroll down to see a great suet recipe that the birds love too!
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I have found that attracting birds to my yard is not too difficult! That being said, there are a few things you will want to consider. They need an appropriate habitat, a source of food and water, and shelter. For instance, I live on a fairly busy street, but my backyard is pretty private and has about 2/3 of an acre of woods with a stream running through it. I win LOL. But, though I have logged well over a hundred different types of birds in my yard, I am still unlikely to see many birds, such as a seagull for example. You are more likely to see a Rock Pigeon if you live near town, such as on Main Street in Monson. You are more likely to see a Great Blue Heron if you live near a lake, such as Sawmill Pond in Wilbraham. You are more likely to see more kinds of birds as well as more birds in general if you live near a sanctuary like Laughing Brook in Hampden or Fannie Stebbins in Longmeadow or near a place with varied habitats such as Forest Park in Springfield. Weather and climate matter too. Here in Western Mass, we are less likely to see Orioles now than people on the shore as they are generally much warmer in the winter than we are. That being said, weather can make a difference too. With all the rain we had last year, my woods became a swamp and I had Green Herons, Wood Ducks and Mallards that I could watch out my window!
The second thing your yard needs is shelter to keep the birds safe from weather and predators. Some birds like pine trees, such as Pine Warblers, while other birds prefer shrubbery close to the ground. Some birds will take shelter in tree trunks and others will use bird houses you provide. The third thing you need to have to attract birds is a source of water. They need water to drink, keep clean and cool down in hot weather. I have found that my heated birdbath attracts a TON of birds in the winter. I love watching them visit it. On freezing days, it steams like a sauna and the birds will sit long enough for me to really enjoy them. I will put info on a products page soon about these. Finally, the birds need food and lots of it to keep their metabolism high enough to heat their bodies now. My next blog will discuss the different types of food for different types of birds so be sure to subscribe and follow this site so you receive notifications on when I post!
April 20th-A lot of birds are looking to build nests now. If you would like them to nest with you, you can encourage this by providing nesting materials! I will blog on this next, so check the Blog list to see if it is there. But, a quick tip is to put out things the birds can use to build/line their nests with and houses for them to build their nests in. You can pay a lot for some of this or make your own. I have had success with using my Maine Coons Cashie and Callie (before she passed tragically) fur. Here is a picture of a Chickadee last year, and a Titmouse today!
This is the suet recipe from the National Audubon I used with a couple changes. The birds really seem to love it!
3 blocks rendered suet
1/2 cup peanut butter
9 cups bird seed
(I added shelled nuts.)
Wide ribbon (I used wire.)
Melt suet over low heat, stirring consistently-don’t let boil.
Add peanut butter, let melt and remove from heat.
Add the bird seed and stir.
Spray a Bundt pan (for a wreath). I made suet muffins and a wreath with a pie plate and a glass as I couldn’t find my Bundt pan that I put away somewhere….sigh……
Add the suet and put in refrigerator over night.
Add the wire/string etc. for muffins.
Ready to go in the morning! Tie ribbon if you went with wreath.
* It makes a lot of muffins so I put them in sandwich bags and they are doing great!