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Monday, September 15, 2014
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Published: Tuesday, 2/4/2014

IN THE GARDEN

Winter feast for the birds

BY KELLY HEIDBREDER
GARDENING COLUMNIST FOR THE BLADE
Kelly Heidbreder Kelly Heidbreder
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Have you spotted the first robin in your neighborhood? Maybe you have seen a few cardinals hanging around in the tree outside your kitchen window. Or maybe you had a lingering visit from a lone mourning dove looking for her perfect match.

Many bird watchers have been busy filling up the feeders all around their yard. You can join them and invite a party to your windowsill with some of their favorite snacks.

Your birdie foodie

Birds are searching for food in the middle of the winter. Did you know they love fruit? Birdwatchersdigest. com suggests setting some sliced grapes, oranges, grapefruit, bananas, and melon outside for them. This plate of fruit will attract many visitors, especially orioles and tanagers.

If you like to watch sparrows, blackbirds, bluejays, and doves, toss some cracked corn out in the yard or in your feeder. Birds aren’t the only visitors you might attract with cracked corn. Deer, turkeys, and those busy squirrels are also tempted by this snack.

Don’t forget about the little buddies that like to flutter through the neighborhood. Birdwatchersdigest. com says small birds such as goldfinches, house finches, and purple finches go for some of the expensive items on the menu like thistle seeds. You have to have a special feeder for thistle seeds because they are so small. If you put thistle seed with cracked corn, it would fall through the big holes and onto the ground. Thistle feeders look like a fabric sock made from mesh. The little birds can hang on to the sides and poke their little beaks through the mesh to feast.

Cardinals like safflower seeds. They will share with other birds, but not willingly. You might have to fight off a few squirrels and blackbirds from the feeder filled with safflower seeds. Keep it in a feeder so it doesn’t get wet.

Hunks of fat called suet can be a wonderful treat for your feathered visitors. You can find it at your grocery store in the meat case. It doesn’t go in a regular feeder, but can be hung from a tree branch in any mesh bag.

Who doesn’t love a handful of peanuts? If a jar of dry roasted nuts is open, you will find most people will stretch out their hand for a fist full. Birds love them too. Woodpeckers, jays, cardinals, finches, nuthatches, chickadees, and titmice will visit often for this snack, according to birdwatchersdigest. com.

Don’t forget about the black-oil sunflower seeds. Most mixed birdseed bags contain a lot of blackoil sunflower seeds. You can also buy them separately. You will get lots of birds with these seeds. You will see all of the shells left behind after they stop by. They crack them open, pull out the seed, and let the shell drop to the grounds. If the bird is too small to crack them open, they will bounce around on the ground looking for leftovers.

Can’t wait to see who visits your feeder! Post your pictures on my Facebook page at www.facebook. com/KellyHeidbreder13abc.

Contact Kelly Heidbreder at getgrowing@gmail.com 



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