Observe Birds During Winter | Community
As outdoor enthusiasts, one of our favorite pastimes, especially in the fall and winter, is bird watching. Their bright colors, chirping and cheerful chants give a boost to the darker, colder days of winter.
Attracting birds to your landscape is neither difficult nor expensive. You also don’t need a large garden. Here’s how.
There are several birds common to our region: chickadees, chickadees, cardinals, blue jays, finches, nuthatches and several types of woodpeckers are all abundant in Oklahoma. They need three things to come to your garden: food, water, and some kind of cover, like trees or shrubs.
Almost all birds like black oil sunflower seeds, as well as striped sunflower seeds; they like peanuts and tallow and, to a lesser extent, cheaper seeds like millet.
You can purchase bird sunflower seeds at any home or garden center, hardware store, or wildlife store. It is best to buy a squirrel proof bird feeder, as these critters will steal the seeds from the birds.
Tallow is a type of bird food that contains fruits, seeds, and peanut butter or lard, and fat, in particular, provides birds with much-needed energy for the winter. Tallow can be purchased in cakes at any home or garden center, but it is also very easy and inexpensive to make yourself.
Here’s a tallow recipe anyone can make: In a medium bowl, combine 1 cup of cornmeal, 1 cup of sugar and ½ cup of flour. Add ¾ cup of water and mix again. Put 1 cup of peanut butter and 1 cup of lard in a small bowl and microwave for 2 minutes. Add to cornmeal mixture; add 1 cup of raisins and mix everything together. Refrigerate for about 2 hours.
There are several ways you can share tallow with birds: Buy a small wire cage designed for tallow from a local garden center. Squeeze your mixture into a saucepan and freeze; break into pieces that will fit into the cage.
Alternatively, shape your tallow mixture into balls, tie a string or put it in a mesh bag, freeze it and then hang it from the branches in your garden. Finally, just take your chilled mixture and spread it on tree branches. Birds love tallow no matter how it is presented to them.
Water is another essential element in attracting birds to your garden. A simple birdbath is easy to do using a large saucer designed to fit under a pot.
Fill with water and keep cool and clean.
Plastic or ceramic birdbaths are also inexpensive and also make great decorations in your garden. There are also birdbath heaters, items that are submerged in birdbaths and plugged in to prevent water from freezing in very cold weather.
If you are avid birding enthusiast, you may want to invest in a heater so that the birds have a constant source of water.
Finally, birds need shelter or blanket to protect themselves; this is easily provided by shrubs or trees in your garden. Any type of shrub or tree will work; roses and evergreens are great for covering, as is residue from your summer garden.
Or install birdhouses in your landscape; they are easily purchased at any home and garden center. There are also instructions on how to build a birdhouse, easily available on the Internet.
If you follow these simple steps, you can attract birds to your garden all winter long and enjoy the spectacle they provide. Nothing is more beautiful than a bright red cardinal in your garden on a snowy winter day.