The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) in the UK has proclaimed October 24 as Feed The Birds Day. It serves as a reminder of all the things we can do to help the birds through the coming winter.
We’re good at providing fast food for birds in our feeders, and this is certainly a life-saver in the cold snow-covered conditions. But what about ‘slow food?‘ There are many things you can do in your garden and yard to provide food for all wildlife.
- Plant native plants such as Saskatoons, juniper and other species that provide berries in the winter for birds such as Bohemian Waxwings. I had a crowd of about 50 waxwings zoom in on my tree last winter, stripping it of berries in a matter of minutes. White Spruce trees also provide cones for Red-breasted Nuthatches and crossbills, and shelter from the wind.
- Make a brush or log pile. I have a huge Northwest Poplar tree in my yard, and during any windstorm we lose a fair number of branches of all sizes. Instead of throwing them out, or chopping them up for mulch, we stack them in a pile in the back of the yard. The birds use it as a sanctuary and often take shelter there in inclement weather throughout the year. A log pile is an even better idea, as it will provide solid shelter for a variety of small creatures over the winter, and if left alone, will become a host to mosses, fungi and lichens to decorate your yard.
- Provide an insect home. We do not get rid of our leaves in the fall – we treasure them! Our garden is covered with about 8 inches of leaves, which are then covered with burlap to keep them from blowing away. This not only keeps the moisture in the ground, but also provides homes for thousands of ladybugs and other overwintering insects. In late spring, we cautiously remove them, first making sure the ladybugs have awakened and flown away.
These are just a few ideas for helping the birds along this winter. If you have other suggestions, please leave us a comment below!
Feed The Birds Day in Calgary this year was accompanied by rain, sleet and snow in the morning. I made sure all my ‘fast food’ feeders were full, and was rewarded by a yard full of Pine Siskins. These little seed eaters were everywhere, at every feeder. I don’t believe I’ve ever had that many in the yard at one time! These birds are year round visitors in Calgary, so they served as an additional reminder to remember the birds in the coming frigid months!