Winter is a natural time to focus on those inside jobs, especially in the northern climates. But what can be done to enhance the outside appearance? The flowers are gone and aside from an accent flag or two, your cottage may come across a bit dreary. Natural color can still be added and provide countless hours of entertainment.
There are a number of birds and other small animals that will willingly accept handouts. Start out simple by adding a thistle feeder or sock. Small songbirds love thistle, also called nyjer seed. After a few days the birds will become accustom to the new item in your yard, and you will soon be attracting various colored birds. A trip to the bookstore may be in order just to identify all of your new feathered friends. You can expect to see dozens of yellow and purple finches, juncos, nuthatches and chickadees all enjoying a winter snack from your thistle feeder.
Want to add more color? Try adding a well-built sunflower seed feeder. You’ll attract beautifully appointed woodpeckers in colors of white, black and red. Perhaps a blue jay will stop by and add a splash of azure blue or a tufted titmouse with its punk hairdo. If you are very lucky a cardinal may frequent your feeder in a blaze of crimson glory. Menards has a good selection of feeders and socks, as well as bird seed.
Adding sunflower seeds may also attract a couple of local squirrels. Some folks find them a nuisance but once you realize that they need food in the winter as well, they will reward you with countless hours of acrobatic antics as they gorge themselves on the treats. Squirrel guards are available also, but don’t be surprised if a determined squirrel finds a way around it.
Birdseed can be readily found locally at Tractor Supply store or Pet Supplies Plus. Both offer a number of different bird feeders as well. Expect to pay around $1 to $1.50 a pound for thistle seed, and $.50 to $.75 per pound for good quality sunflower seeds. Generally the larger bags offer the better price.
One thing to keep in mind is placement of the feeders. Dropped seed is usually eaten by ground feeders such as morning doves, but both thistle seed and sunflower seed leave shells behind. Consider putting the feeder in a location where you can easily sweep or rake up the seeds in the spring if this is a concern. And be sure to locate it near a window for viewing. Of course this may become a year round hobby and you will start marking the seasons with the appearance of various species at different times of year. You will be pleasantly surprised with how many new neighbors come to visit each day.