In the last column, I discussed how to feed backyard birds during the winter months. If you really want to attract a wide variety of birds to your backyard, there are a few other components one should consider adding to the landscape.
All wildlife requires habitat - that is food, shelter, and water. Birdfeeders are a great way to add the food component. Providing wintering birds with shelter and water are not too difficult either.
The best way to provide birds with liquid water during the cold winter months is with a heated birdbath. You can either purchase specially made heated bird baths, or you can place a water-safe heating element in a regular birdbath. Liquid water can be scarce during our winters and as a result a heated birdbath can attract a wider variety of birds to your yard.
The other component of habitat that is vital, especially during the winte,r if shelter. You can landscape your property with a variety of trees and shrubs to provide birds with shelter. Conifers, or evergreens, provide both warmth and wind protection during the winter months. Dense deciduous shrubs can also provide protection from the cold, wind and snow.
If you do not have a lot of shrubs and bushes on your property, you really can't change that this winter. That doesn't mean you cannot provide shelter to birds this winter. Nesting boxes and birdhouses can be placed in the yard to provide birds with year-round winter roosting sites. Birds will enter the houses for warmth and wind protection, just like they would an evergreen shrub or tree.
With some care and consideration, backyard birding can be an exhilarating hobby throughout the winter, adding birdsongs and backyard visits to brighten the coldest days of the season!
Anne Lenox Barlow is the horticulture educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Clinton County. CCE offices may be reached in Clinton County at 561-7450; Essex County, 962-4810; and Franklin County, 483-7403. E-mail your questions to askMG@cornell.edu.