Winter Is Near – Birds are Dear

By Ernie Allison

A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song. (Chinese proverb)

‘Tis the season of ice and snow rushing towards us with giant steps. Birds are going to be in dire straits and need our help again to make it through the barren and cold winter months. When their food sources have disappeared or have frozen, birds are no longer able to survive on their own. That’s why they need our help. Here’s the support you can offer our feathered friends in these trying times:


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Setting up a decorative bird feeder not only enhances your garden’s beauty, it helps the birds to survive and can give you pleasure. It’s the best way to bring color and life into the dreary winter months, when our gardens have little to offer.

  • Offer either pre-mixed seed
  • You can mix your own bird seed.
  • Birds love nuts and fresh or dried fruits.
  • They will even help wipe your breakfast plate clean. Crumble your leftover toast into your breakfast skillet and soak up the grease. Your feathered friends will love it.


Birds also need water to survive. In winter their usual sources are frozen over and can’t be accessed. If you set up a birdbath they will be more than grateful and offer extra entrainment while washing the dust off their feathers. My grandchildren love watching birds bathe and ruffle their feathers. To make it easier for them and yourself, you can either buy a heating mat or make your own to keep the water from freezing.

Setting the Table

When you set up your bird feeder make sure you position it where the birds are safe from cats. Even if you don’t have any, your neighbors may. Cats are known to prey on birds and not just when they’re hungry.

  • Hanging feeders are harder for cats and other predators to reach
  • Position them away from other branches, roofs, low buildings, etc.
  • Make sure you can see the birds interact from one of your windows



Sit back and enjoy

Now that you’ve built a bird winter refuge you can expect your visitors to arrive quickly. Once they’ve found the feeder, which they rapidly will, they will keep coming back for more. So sit back with a warm cup of cocoa or coffee, pull that throw around you and watch from your cozy chair as the birds bring life back to your winter garden.

Birds are such entertaining creators and watching them, you’ll find out that they are a lot smarter than we give them credit for. You’ll also see that there is a strict pecking order and it’s not always the bigger bird with the bigger status. Most of the times the smaller, and often, faster bird will take the cake. After they have visited your feeder for a while you’ll be able to distinguish them from one another. Just like any other species, each bird has its own characteristics, preferences and habits. It’s fun to learn these differences and recognize the visitors when they return. Enjoy your winter lively garden!

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