Saturday, January 18, 2014

Feeding Wildlife In Mid-Winter

In the bleakness of January, there are few signs of food for wildlife. The berries off the Taxus (yews) bushes are gone:

Even the Ligustrum (privet) berries are gone.

I can't help but feel sorry for wildlife. Working outdoors, I see the tree damage also reducing food sources for birds and damaging squirrel's homes.

There I go, into my pantry to find some treats for the furry friends who endure the cold outside.

I read somewhere; peanuts are the equivalent to junk food for squirrels. So, I kept dried-out almonds that I usually blanch for baking just for this purpose. I think this grey squirrel hit the jack-pot, but wasn't "friendly" nor trustworthy enough to stay close to the pot of gold.

My camera couldn't capture the squirrel quickly enough, for each time it grabbed an almond, it dashed off to the corner of the fenceline. Around an hour later, the almonds were all gone. I choose not to feed them every day. Squirrels will eat only enough to get by and bury the rest. A good handful every other day is plenty.

I also made sure that the birdseed I bought was a better quality brand. Nyjer, millet, sunflower, safflower seeds - to attract all sorts. This Cardinal is able to enjoy feeding and finding safety quickly in the yew bush.
It's important that birds have an exit strategy, or a wide open area close to the feeder. This tight spot isn't the best option, but the yew is where Cardinals, Chickadees, Wrens, Sparrows and other birds keep warm from winter winds.

Wild Birds Unlimited is a fabulous store and great resource for attracting wildlife, specifically birds. They'll give the best advice for which seed to use, which sort of feeder works best, as well as great books and information on bird species and bird watching. If you're worried about the mess that the bird seed husks leave behind, there is unhusked seed available too. I learn something new every time when visiting.

What a treat to see bright red Cardinals, Blue Jays, Yellow Finch outside your window on a cold winter's day. 

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