Helping wildlife to weather the winter months
Summer has passed, spring is gone and fall is here. Winter is following close by as our gardens and landscapes are preparing to be matted with snow while nature goes into that long-awaited rest. This is the time of year that we experience a winter wonderland.
For some, this is a wonderful occasion and for others, there is the thought of wishing for spring where nature is bursting with activity as our landscapes and gardens are painted with an array of colorful flowering plants.
What makes spring and summer days really awesome is watching and listening to birds singing so sweetly in the summer breeze, but with winter approaching their singing slowly fades as they prepare for those long winter months.
But it is during this time of the year we are presented with the opportunity of helping many of our feathered friends ensuring they are comfortable and well cared for making them feel right at home.
How to care for birds in the winter
When it comes to taking care of birds during this time of year, what are some measures that can be put in place to ensure we have covered our bases as we seek to reach out to nature by giving a helping hand?
Preparing for winter checklist
Here are some ideas that can be implemented which will keep your singing friends happy as they settled down for the winter.
1. Leave the birdhouse up don’t take it down because there is a good chance especially on cold nights that birds will seek out these shelters as a means of escaping that winter freeze.
2. Check the birdhouse to see if it is in need of repair.
3. Providing your birdhouse with twigs is a sure way of keeping them comfortable as they feel right at home.
4. During the winter months, food may become scarce because insects have gone into hiding, trees that produce berries and seeds have fallen asleep and the snow-covered ground makes finding food a challenge.
But we can assist by purchasing quality bird foods such as black oil sunflower seeds, sunflower chips, etc…
5. Providing a bird feeder is a must in keeping them happy. Purchasing a quality feeder is best.
6. Providing water is so important. Empty bowl or water source at night to prevent freezing and refill again the following morning.
7. Plants such as trees and shrubs make a great winter home for birds. So planting a few for this time of the year will help birds greatly.
Some birds to watch out for during the winter months
1. Robins are songbirds that are native to and popular in North America. They can be found in the city, parks, gardens, woodlands, lawns, fields, and so on. It’s said that the male robins sing so sweetly.
The American robin can produce up to three successful broods in a year’s time. some of their favorite foods are earthworms, grasshoppers, caterpillars, and berries. Once a male robin finds his mate
He will continue to bring the female robin food to strengthen their bond. Robins were once hunted for food but is now protected by the migratory bird act that is in the U.S. A robin can live 13 months in captivity and up to 6 years in the wild.
2. Finches have been known to interact with birds of other species. They can be found in tropical and subtropical climates even evergreen forests. Although finches come from a large family
they are among the smallest of birds. Finches are kept as pets more than any other species of birds. Finches that live in the wild build their nest in rocks crevices, bushes, and trees.
The life expediency of finches are 4-7 years and in some case may live longer. Finches only eat fruits, seeds, and nuts so worms, spiders, bugs, and other insects can take a breath of relief when coming in contact with them.ThNorthern Cardinal
3. The Northern Cardinal are birds that have very unique features. As a child, I always wondered about them because of their color and appearance. Cardinals are said to be monogamous mating with the same partner during each breeding season.
Northern Cardinals inhabits overgrown fields, landscapes, forests, backyards, thick shrubs, and marsh thickets. The male cardinals are said to be very territorial and can get pretty aggressive.
These birds feed on corn, buckwheat, seeds, fruits, insects, blackberry, mulberries, and so on. The life expectancy of a cardinal is 3 years even though some have been reported to live for more than 15 years.
4. Blue Jays are native to North America. What I found very interesting about the blue jay is that the pigment that is found in their feathers is actually brown and the light that is scattered in parts of their feathers gives it that blue appearance.
These birds can be found in urban, suburban, and also forest areas. Blue jays feed on grains, seeds, and insects. They have also been known to feed on dead birds and raid nests looking for eggs.
Blue jays can be very aggressive because they are territorial, loud and have been known to bully other birds. The life expectancy of the blue jay is around 7 years with a recording of one that lived for more than 25 years.
5. The Mourning Dove has a unique way of singing. I remembered as a child listening to them in the evening and early morning, especially on cool summer days. As children, my brother and I had a few of them for pets that we caught with our special mastermind homemade traps.
But let’s take a closer look at the morning dove to see what facts we can find. Morning dove loves uncooked or cooked rice, breadcrumbs, cooked or uncooked grits, and seeds. These birds are graceful, peaceful and can be found in the back as well as front yards, resting on telephone wires, housetops, and lap pools.
Mourning Doves are mostly hunted among birds every year in North America. In Fact, it is said that more than 15 million are killed for their meat. These birds can also be found in woodlands, among trees and the open country. Their life expectancy is about a year and a half with the oldest recording of one that lived for more than 25 years.
6. Downy woodpeckers can be found through Canada and the United States. These birds are the smallest of all the North American woodpeckers. Downy woodpecker habitats are suburbs, backyards, orchards, open woodlands, and parks.
Their diet consists of berries, seeds, ants, caterpillars, beetles, and other insects. Downy woodpeckers can be found nesting in dead or half-dead trees.
These birds stay together and mate with each other from year to year. They have a short lifespan and live anywhere from 2 to 5 years.
7. Nuthatch can be found in yards, parks, woodlands, and wooded suburbs. There are said to be 4 species of nuthatch which are red-breasted nuthatch, pygmy nuthatch, brown-headed nuthatch, and white-breasted nuthatch.
Their favorite meals include corn, seeds, nuts, spiders, ants, stinkbugs, caterpillars, gypsy moths, scale insects, weevil larvae, and gall fly larvae. What is so interesting about these birds is when opening seeds the nuthatch wedges the seeds into a crevice and with its bill hits it continually.
When it comes to mating they will stay with the same mate, mating from year to year. The life expediency of the nuthatch is 3-5 years.
8. Redwings are sociable birds that fly in flocks of hundreds. Redwings habitats are parks, the open country, farmlands, woodlands, and gardens. Their diet consists of fruits, wheat, snails, mealworms, earthworms, and corn.
The nest of the redwing can be found in trees, shoots of marsh vegetations, and shrubs.
There are 22 species of redwings that are spread across parts of Central America, North America, parts of Alaska, Mexico, and the Northwest Territories of Canada. The life expectancy of the redwing is a little over two years. However, there were reports of redwing that lived for more than 12 years.
How to care for birds in the winter
This shortlist is just a few of the many birds that seek out shelter during the winter months.
The final word
Helping our feathered friends to prepare for the winter is such an awesome experience. It is good to make the winter months easier for them because they sing so sweetly for us during spring through summer.
So let’s do our part to ensure that when winter has passed that singing which faded slowly because of the approaching winter months would once again appear to be enjoyed not only by us but with friends and family also. With that said, let’s give nature a helping hand.