Exciting News!  Beginning on December 31, we will be starting our Backyard Winter Birdscape Contest.  This contest will run until March 14th.  We’re not looking for a perfectly staged space with expensive and beautiful feeders, we’re looking for practical items you have put in your yards to help birds stay healthy throughout the winter months.  I’ll share some tips on how to make your outdoor space a welcome respite for our feathered friends.

Let’s begin with the feeders and what kinds of seed benefit birds most in colder months. Think about which style of feeder is going to accommodate many species of birds.  Hopper, platform, and fly-through feeders offer birds easy access to seed.  Another type are cylinder feeders that have perches large enough to let cardinals feed in a forward position.  Sunflower seed mixes such as our Red Carpet or Fiesta can be used in these feeders as well as Sunflower Hearts or Black Oil Sunflower.  These seeds are high in fat and oils and will give birds the calories they need to stay warm and healthy.

Ground feeders are a great option for Junco’s, wintering sparrows and doves.  If you don’t have a ground feeder, you can choose a designated area to stamp the snow down and sprinkle some sunflower and white millet on it for these species.

Mesh peanut feeders are also a great addition in the winter.  Peanuts are relished by woodpeckers, blue jays, nuthatches and chickadees, and also contain the required calories.

Suet is also important to feed at this time of year.  There are many styles of suet feeders to choose from.  Single suet feeders can be hung from tree branches, or you may decide to offer a larger tail-prop feeder on a feeding station.  Tail-prop feeders allow larger woodpeckers to balance their tail on the added prop rather than curling around a smaller suet feeder.  Some hopper feeders have suet cake feeders on the sides to allow non-clinging birds such as cardinals, finches and winter sparrows to indulge in this treat.  Mill Creek suet gives you a wide variety of flavor choices including the ever popular insect and nut cake.  If you hang a few suet feeders up, you can offer varying flavors and see who likes what best!

Water is essential for birds to have access to when natural sources freeze.  By adding a heated bird bath, or a de-icer to an existing bath, you will be providing birds an open water source to drink from.  They should be placed in a sunny location for optimum performance.

Shelters are a welcome sight when winter storms are brewing.  Roosting boxes and pockets invite birds to gather together for warmth to ride out inclement weather.  Bird houses used in the spring and summer months can also be used for shelter.  Always make sure that the openings on any of these are facing away from prevailing winds.

Photos of your yard with a short written description (250 words or less) of what changes you made to help birds stay safe during the winter can be submitted to photos@UrbanNatureStore.ca by March 14, 2022.  Minimum criteria for your backyard is a heated birdbath/de-icer, roosting box or pocket, and suet.  First place will receive a heated bird bath, second place a brome bird feeder, and third place a winter roost box.

We hope you have fun with this and enjoy watching the birds in your backyard bird haven!

Happy Birding and Happy Holidays to all!

By Jane Paradis

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