Horticulture News: Winter a good time to attract, watch birds

By Kim Cowherd, Published:

Winter is a great time to watch birds!

They are attracted to feeders and bird-friendly plants that we place in our home landscapes as the cold weather arrives and insects and other native foods become less available.

You can provide some of the things birds need to survive like food, water, shelter, nest sites and natural habitats. Having a bird-friendly yard has never been more important and with every passing year suitable habitat for birds is in ever shorter in supply. Attracting and watching birds is also great way to introduce young people to nature and it’s something the whole family can share.

Providing food for birds is a fun family activity. An easy way to attract birds is to put up a bird feeder. Black-oil sunflower seeds are the best choice to attract the widest variety of birds. These seeds are also a great source of high-energy nutrition for birds.

Different birds like different types of food, so mix and match and keep track of who likes what (just like our kids’ diets!). Suet is a good choice for some birds, and others may be attracted by fruits such as raisins, small slices of apples, and oranges. Be wary of tossing out stale bread or other scrap food, as raccoons and other nuisance animal pests may come calling instead of the birds.

Design your landscape so that you use native plants that have berries and seeds that are attractive to birds. Create thickets with native deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs. Include places for placement of nesting boxes and feeders.

Standing dead (but not hazardous) trees make excellent places for cavity dwelling birds. Cut Christmas trees can be placed in the landscape after the holidays for excellent winter bird habitat.

A water source for our bird friends is very important as well. Birds not only need water to drink, but also to bathe in. Shallow, easy to clean basins are the bathtub of choice.

Permanent, in-ground, shallow pools that are a part of your landscape plan are the ultimate for a true bird spa experience. It is most important to keep the water clean, fresh, and unfrozen for the birds to flock to your home.

Bird watching can be a fun and rewarding activity for your whole family or group of friends. One easy way to do this is to participate is the Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count. The Bird Count helps the Audubon Society do valuable research on our nation’s birds that help us know more about our feathered friends. You can find information on the Internet at http://birds.audubon.org/christmas-bird-count.

The Frankfort Audubon Society will be conducting counts this season. By participating in the count locally you can learn from experienced members of the Society. These people know the names of the birds you might see, know their songs, and can advise you on the best way to watch once you get back home.

There will be a count held at the Kleber Wildlife Management Area, north of Frankfort, on Sunday, Dec. 30. Participants may contact Jeff Jones for specifics at 502-320-2484 or email redbelly13@msn.com. In case of bad weather an alternate date may be scheduled.

For more information about bird watching, contact the Frankfort Audubon Chapter at frankfortaudubonchapter@gmail.com, call Scott Hankla at 223-4179 or check out their website: https://sites.google.com/site/frankfortaudubon/.

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