It is hard to say who benefits more from backyard bird feeders – the birds or the people who feed them. Some of life’s more enjoyable moments include the songs and antics of the birds outside our windows. Watching them is so captivating that it can alter an entire day’s plans, turning a twenty-minute breakfast into a three-hour brunch. Activity at your feeders probably can hold your attention all day with its ever-changing pattern of form and color, from fluffed-up chickadees to sleek cardinals. But yet I hear, where have all the birds gone? I don’t have as many as I used to.
Until recent years the brightest spot on the winter landscape, with the most activity, is the bird feeder in the backyard. No matter what size yard or garden you have, you can create your own bird haven. All you need are food, water, and shelter. Shrubs and evergreens are good, not only to offer cover during harsh northern winters, but also to protect birds from their natural enemies. I encourage you to look at your landscape and see what you can do to encourage wild bird habitat.
Several years ago, there was a national call to ‘save the bees!’. The last two years it has remained bees, and the Monarch butterfly was added to the list. This year you will be reading quite a lot from the National Audubon society as well as other environmental groups that we should now be worried about the huge decline in our native bird numbers. Birds are very important to our ecological and environmental health. They too, are great pollinators, and help keep insects at bay.
So, I ask you, to look around your neighborhoods and parks. Close your eyes and listen. Maybe not as melodious as it used to be? The ultimate bird songs so familiar as we were growing up, not as prevalent. Now is the time to act and plan to enhance your gardens and landscapes with beneficial plants such as native species that will feed our feathered friends. Let’s continue to increase the pollination process we need for good environmental health.
Start this winter by offering food, water and shelter to our feathered friends. It is so easy to do, and we can help. Next spring add natives to the landscapes or containers, and we will be well on our way of enhancing our little piece of heaven here on earth.
Happy New Year dear friends…
See you in the garden…
Sandi Hillermann McDonald