February is National Bird Feeding Month… this year the Audubon Society will be making national awareness of the decline of birds in North America. This awareness of loss of nature began more than several years ago with bees, then butterflies, to pollinators and this year will focus on the loss of birds and their habitat. The next will be frogs. Our world is losing nature and it’s help for human survival at an alarming rate. I truly hope by now that these declines in nature have hit home with you and that you realize that now it is time to do something about it ourselves. You will hear much more about these environmental efforts throughout the year.
For winter care of birds one of the easiest things to provide is water. Providing shelter is another way to help. There is a shortage of nesting sites for cavity-nesting birds due to land development, and the use of pesticides. The use of birdhouses and nesting boxes has helped many species make a comeback. Landscaping that provides shelter can be a great help. Evergreen trees and shrubs provide a place out of the wind, snow or rain. Birds gather in groups towards the inside and huddle together to create more warmth.
The final piece of the puzzle is providing food. Here in Missouri, winter is a difficult time for the bird species that have chosen to overwinter here. There is little to no vegetation, and most of the insects are dead or dormant. Most songbirds feed on insects and spiders during the spring and summer; however, the non-migratory species switch to fruit and seeds in the fall and winter. Black oil sunflower seeds are preferred by the largest number of bird species. Enjoy the birds this season with these simple tips.
It is also time to think about starting any garden and flower seeds in the house that you may want to grow this year. Our last frost date is around May 1st, so back up the weeks on the calendar for seed starting so you know when the best time for planting in the house would be. Ample light is very important for this task,
Another cold weather job is cleaning up any containers or planters that you have stored away. While doing this, make a list of the flowers that you are going to need for these containers in the spring.
Until next month,
Sandi Hillermann McDonald