I swear that watching bluejays, cardinals and chickadees flutter from tree branches to feeders goes a long way to dispel seasonal affective disorder. In wintertime the garden sleeps; but bird feeding stations in your garden give you positive signs of life out your window right through the snowy season. The first winter I actually enjoyed was the one where I went out early every frosty morning to fill up my bird feeders.
Bird feeders keep the garden alive with movement, colour and birdsong. Chickadees, especially, cheer up a winter day with their chick-a-dee-dee calls. A mixture of shrubs, trees, and a flat open area make the best wildlife garden habitats. Don’t bother cutting down your perennials, like coneflowers, and birds will come to feed on the seeds. A bird bath for fresh water makes your garden an even better habitat, and you can add a birdbath heater to keep the water from freezing. Squirrel proof bird feeders are the best for keeping your seeds for the birds, but even squirrels are fun to watch at their own feeders, full of peanuts in the shell. You can make your own feeders from recycled pop bottles and milk bottles. The video below shows how, and it’s a fun activity to do with kids.
Start feeding now, and keep it up throughout the winter. One of the most crucial periods for birds is the late winter, in March, when most of the available wild seed is exhausted, so make sure you don’t stop too early. By the way, if you use a Christmas tree, prop it out in the garden as more shelter for birds when the season is over, then recycle it in the spring.