Few things are more relaxing looking through your window and watching winter birds on a cold day. While it's relatively simple to landscape for a bird-friendly yard in the spring and summer, winter landscaping can be a bit more challenging. The following tips can help you make a more welcoming cold weather refuge for your feathered friends.
Tip #1: Provide a water source
Free-flowing water is one of the hardest things for over-wintering birds to find when the temperatures are cold. One way you can help is to install a permanent bird bath that features a water heater. The heater only heats the water enough so it doesn't freeze. You can use them in nearly any type of bird bath, although the highly decorative stone and concrete types look good and can withstand a little heat. Simply add more water as needed so the heater remains submerged at all times.
Tip #2: Plant winter feed
Certain plants serve a dual purpose in the winter landscape – they provide visual interest and they feed the birds. Plant a bed with perennials that provide pretty seedheads, like coneflowers and black-eyed susans. Jays and finches particularly enjoy these. Sunflowers, particularly smaller varieties, also provide pretty upright seedheads (larger types tend to fall over). These will attract chickadees, woodpeckers, and nuthatches.
Tip #3: Plant plenty of dense shrubbery
In winter, most birds must nest close to their food sources so they can conserve energy. Dense shrubbery is the best option, since this provides cover and protection from the elements. Consider planting an evergreen hedge or a single spruce tree to provide a safe place to nest and stay warm. Thicket or bramble style deciduous plants, like blackberry hedges, can also provide some cover as well as a food source in the fall.
Tip #4: Add some variety
Variety will also attract more birds. Certain plants have berries that last well into winter, such as snowberries, and they are also an attractive substitute for less nutritious bushes. You should also provide feeders with a selection of seeds, such as millet, black oil sunflower, and safflower seeds. Make sure to use baffles on feeder poles and lines to keep the squirrels out, and hang the feeders high enough so the birds are safe from predators. Suet cakes are also a popular food item for many birds, and you can hang these in the branches of the trees around your property.
For more help in creating a bird friendly yard, contact a landscape designer, like one from W.H. Boyer, Inc., in your area.
I have always been someone who absolutely adores being outside, which is probably one of the reasons I decided to buy a home with a large lot. However, as soon as I moved in, I realized that yard work was a lot more challenging than I had anticipated, which is why I called in a team of professional landscapers. They were amazing to work with and got right to it, and within a few days, the yard was looking amazing. I wanted to create a blog all about creating beautiful outdoors spaces so that other people can help to beautify the world.