Feed the Birds
Writer / Nancy Craig
When our great nieces and nephews visit, they always help their Great Uncle Ken feed the birds in our backyard. Since February is National Wild Bird Feeding month, we are planning some special treats for the birds while the cold weather makes it harder for them to get food and water. You do not need elaborate feeders; it can be as simple as tossing out stale bread crumbs like my Great Grandmother would do every day.
We have several kinds of bird feeders in our backyard and lots of mature trees, shrubs and perennial flowers that attract all kinds of birds. The different types of feeders and seeds attract certain birds. One of our favorite feeders is a special mesh bag with Nyjer seed that attract the colorful Goldfinches. Ken has found that squirrels do not like safflower seed so he puts that seed in the hopper bird feeders and a platform bird feeder which attract cardinals and doves. In the winter we put out suet, which is a favorite of several birds like woodpeckers and wrens. It is so much fun to watch Red Bellied Woodpeckers scurry up and down tree trunks; they have black & white zebra- like backs and a red head.
We have a couple of simple projects for the twins, Lindsey and Lauren, to make for the birds. One is putting peanut butter on a toilet paper tube, rolling it in bird seed, and slipping it over a branch. Another fun treat is stringing Cheerios on a pipe cleaner and hanging it in a tree. Last month I wrote about a book, “Gardening Lab for Kids,” by Renata Fossen Brow that provides garden projects for the year. This month my great nephews, Max and Eli, will make a bird feeder, Lab #29, and a bird bath, Lab #38. Even more important than feeding the birds in the winter is providing water and I plan to get a heater for our birdbath.
We have fun watching the birds through all the seasons, but some don’t come to our backyard so we are planning to visit the Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area this spring or fall to see the amazing Sandhill Cranes. These are birds you do not feed and they only pass through Indiana on their way from Florida to northern areas. As we watch the birds in our backyards, we especially wait for robins to return to tell us spring is coming!