Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Snow Covered Smorgasbord

I value my garden more for being full of blackbirds than of cherries, and very frankly give them fruit for their songs.
~Joseph Addison (1672 - 1719), 'The Spectator'

Birds need food and water every day, just like us gardeners.
When your very own personal bird sanctuary looks like this…

…most of their natural food sources may have been covered under a blanket of snow or ice encrusted and inaccessible.

That is when I just start tossing loose seed over the snow.

In the winter months I forgo the seed feeders in favor of suet cakes. We have so much rain in winter that the seed often gets wet and molds before the birds eat it all so I put out a few of these instead. This is a flicker, a cousin of a Woodpecker.

Hummingbirds get assistance too.

The Anna’s hummingbird over winters on this side of the Cascade Mountain Range so they are year round in my garden. When the temps dip below freezing for any length of time I make a thicker sugar syrup (with NO red dye ever) and wrap the feeder with 3 or 4 layers of bubble wrap. For the most part the syrup does not freeze, unless we get prolonged temps, day and night in the teens. If that happens I bring it in for the night and put it back out for the day. For our most recent icy blast it was fine and stayed liquefied. I did notice though that the little yellow ‘bee guards’ filled with snow and iced over so I did remove them. They are really only needed in summer months anyway.

Also, when the night temps start to dip below freezing I always put a heater in the birdbath. It has a thermostat so if the temps go above 40 F degrees (4 C) it shuts off. Other wise it keeps the water thawed so they can drink. There are many styles out there but the best I’ve used is the Nelson Blue Devil 200 watt heater. I’ve had it for many years.

Be sure to watch your water levels, as you don’t want the warm steam evaporation to leave your heater high and dry.

These simple measures keep the birds coming all winter to my garden, where they also eat lots of bugs and grubs year round, helping to keep down the pest population. Most of us know that hummingbirds consume nectar, but did you know insects provide the protein in their diet? That’s IPM folks, one of the many simple things that can be done for Integrated Pest Management that can greatly reduce and even eliminate chemical pesticide use and keep our gardens organic.

In Bloom In My Garden Today: Helleborus, Sarcococca confuse, Heather (Erica carnea ‘springwood white’), winter pansies

Author’s photos


Cindy said...

I don't even have a heater for my bath!


nicely done my friend.

I like that you throw seeds on the snow for your feathered friends.

I haven't seen too many birds yet, short of the doves that live nearby.

but nothing is hardly growing in my yard anymore, but we do have happy bees!

stay warm!

Joan said...

Hi Cindy!
Yay you have bees flying around! Today was a stellar day here...bees flew a much needed flight after being cooped up for so long. We're going to have sun and highs around 50 for several days...the bees and people will be soooo happy!

I can't wait to see your future blog posts about getting your new garden into bloom. If you start visiting nurseries now you can see what's possible for blooms now and every month following. Make a list and when funds allow make a few purchases. That way you can have blooms all year round. It may take some time since you may not be able to buy a garden full at once but then who can? Here the heather, sarcoccoa, helebors, pansies, whitch hazel, and many others are blooming even though it's been cold and wet for so long. Have fun planning!!

Kathy J said...

Dear Joan: Your wellspring of a loving heart never ceases to amaze me as you gently care for all God's creatures great and small! <3
Kathy J

Joan said...

Thank you Kathy!
How sweet of you to say.

Shari B. (FitFeat) said...

Hi Joan! Wow, I'm so behind on this, I'm not sure how I missed this post in my reader. My apologies!

I second what Kathy J said - knowing all that you having going on in your life right now, the fact that you still get out in your garden to wrap bubble wrap around the hummingbird feeder and give them a bath warmer absolutely speaks VOLUMES to the beautiful, kind, loving person that you are.

And look at all that SNOW! Looks like Colorado weather! :) You have a LOT of snow out there!

Joan said...

Hi Shari,
With all that is going on in your world I completely understand you missing a post or two. No worries, just glad you can catch up now and then. Why are we all so busy...we need to take more time to smell the roses!

Thankfully all our snow is long ago melted. I hope the same for you soon!