While our priority is keeping our trees, shrubs, and flowers healthy in winter so they will come back and grow strong in spring, we shouldn’t forget our feathered friends. Many popular songbirds such as chickadees, finches, and wrens spend the winter in our yards. These birds delight us with their antics and beauty. We can encourage birds to stay around our yards by feeding them in winter and by landscaping with them in mind. Here are some tips for making your garden a winter haven for birds.
Feeding: It’s generally a good idea to feed birds in winter to help them through the lean months. However, you must make a commitment to consistently keep the feeder full. Birds will quickly come to depend on you as a food source, and if you forget to feed them in midwinter, you will make it harder for the birds to survive. Select an assortment of feeders and seed to attract a variety of birds. Place the feeders where cats can’t get at them. Also, place the feeders near evergreen trees or other structures where birds can hide and then quickly flit to the feeder and get away.
Landscaping: Consider planting shrubs and trees that can produce food for birds or provide shelter for them. Plant berry-producing shrubs such as hollies for food. Plant evergreens such as junipers and pines for shelter and a good hiding place. In addition, leave the seedheads of flowers such as coneflower and rudbeckia for birds to pick away at in winter.
Providing Water: Birds need not only food and shelter in winter, but water as well. When temperatures dip consistently below freezing, fresh water can become scarce for birds. Consider providing a heated birdbath that will keep the water above freezing so the birds can enjoy it. You can also just change the water daily to keep it unfrozen. Again, keep the birdbath away from an area where your cat might stage an attack.