Our December #BYAH challenge is to winterize your gardens with birds in mind. During winter all animals still need quality food, water, and shelter to survive and, as habitat loss and climate change continue to impact these necessities. By winterizing your garden for birds, you can help birds survive— and even thrive— over winter, so that they may have more productive spring.
In winter, water can be scarce, the air is dry, and traditional water sources can be frozen. To help with this you can put out water. This can be done with a birdbath, pond, or household items. Birds prefer water that is 3 inches deep to allow them to grip the bottom and wash their feathers. To keep the water from freezing you can purchase a heater to place in the water. You can also break up the ice regularly or switch out your baths to allow the frozen bath to defrost inside.
With the loss of quality habitat, food can be hard for birds to find in the winter. Planting native trees, shrubs, and grasses that provide winter berries and seeds is a great way to provide food. It can take some time for plants to grow and produce enough food. So, while your plants are growing, installing bird feeders can be a good intermediate step. Feeders do require maintenance. For example, if you use seeds with husks, you will need to clean up the husks from underneath your bird feeder. Cleaning your bird feeders with a bleach solution is also important. This helps prevent the spread of disease amongst birds.
Remember not to throw away your fall leaves and trimmed branches! Fallen leaves provide shelter from the cold for many insects, which are a protein-packed food source for many birds. You can use the leaves as a natural mulch and place them under shrubs and around trees. Without leaves on the trees, there are fewer places for birds to hide from predators and extreme weather. Using branches to make brush piles provides them with shelter. There are several different ways you can winterize your garden for birds.
Share with us on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #BigYearAtHome and tell us about the ways that you are helping birds this winter.