Your yard can host hundreds of guests with just a little work, no matter
what size it is. These guests are the best kind of guests to have. They
don't stay long, they don't eat much and they'll be incredibly
grateful-they're birds. Attracting birds to your yard in winter months is
not difficult, as long as you provide them with the essentials they will
need to survive the winter-food and water.
Water is important during the winter months since many sources of water may
be frozen. Provide your feathered visitors with a birdbath, or other
shallow pan of water. The water should only be about two inches deep and in
a sheltered location. Changing the water in the dish frequently will help
to keep it from freezing, or you can invest in an immersion-type water
heater made just for this purpose.
To find the best locations for your bird feeders, try placing food in
several different spots around the yard. Also, purchase several different
kinds of feeders to encourage a variety of birds to stop by for a bite.
The feeders should be placed so you can see them from a window in your home
since this will help you to remember to keep them clean and filled. Birds
will more likely come to a feeder that is near shrubs or trees because they
will have a ready place to hide from predators. If you live in a windy
area, try to arrange the feeders to be in a spot sheltered from the wind.
Choosing the type of food for your feeders depends on the area you live in
and the types of birds that live around you. White proso millet is a good
small seed, favored by sparrows and juncos. Thistle seed (sometimes call
"niger") is popular with goldfinches, house finches, and pine siskins. Try
black sunflower seeds for cardinals, chickadees, evening grosbeaks, and
Once you've installed your feeders you may find that your birds have some
competition for the food you've set out just for them. Squirrels and
raccoons may try to dominate your feeders. In order to prevent these
unwanted diners, elevate the feeder at least five feet off of the ground and
about ten feet away from the nearest tree overhang or building. Install a
baffle (a curved sheet of metal available at home supply stores) to the top
of the feeder to prevent squirrels from eating the food. Raccoons can be
warded off with a cone shield, with an 18-inch radius on the post beneath
the feeder. This shield should be at least four feet off of the ground.
Once you've established your yard as a spot for nourishment, be sure to keep
you birdbaths and feeders well stocked. Birds will come to count on your
yard as a place to come for nourishment all winter and they will have to
spend valuable time and energy searching for food if you forget to restock.
Making your yard bird-friendly will guarantee that all winter you'll have a
great vantage point to watch a variety wildlife from the warmth of your own
Sources used in this article include the National Gardening Association,
www.gardening.org and Ken Simpson and Zo� Wilson.