GARDEN COLUMN: Watch the birds during the winter | Community

As fans of the outdoors, one of our favorite pastimes, particularly in the fall and winter, is bird watching. Their bright colors and cheerful chirps and songs enliven the darkest and coldest days during winter.

Attracting birds to your landscape is not difficult or expensive. You don’t need a big yard either. That is how.

There are several birds common to our area: chickadees, tits, cardinals, blue jays, finches, nuthatches, and various types of woodpeckers that are abundant in Oklahoma. They need three things to come to your backyard: food, water, and some type of cover, like trees or shrubs.

Almost all birds like black oil sunflower seeds, as well as striped sunflower seeds; they like peanuts and suet and, to a lesser degree, cheaper seeds like millet.

You can buy sunflower seed for birds at any home or garden center, hardware store, or specialty wildlife store. It is best to purchase a squirrel-proof bird feeder, as squirrels will steal the birdseed.

Suet is a type of bird feed that contains fruit, seeds, and peanut butter or lard, and the fat, in particular, provides birds with much-needed energy for the winter. Suet can be purchased in cakes at any home or garden center, but it’s also very easy and inexpensive to make yourself.

Here’s a suet recipe anyone can make: In a medium bowl, mix together 1 cup cornmeal, 1 cup sugar, and ½ cup flour. Add ¾ cup of water and mix again. Put 1 cup of peanut butter and 1 cup of lard in a small bowl and microwave for 2 minutes. Add to cornmeal mixture; add 1 cup of raisins and mix everything together. Refrigerate for about 2 hours.

You can share suet with birds in several ways: Purchase a small wire cage designed for suet at a local garden center. Press your mixture into a pan and freeze; break into pieces that fit in the cage.

Alternatively, roll the suet mixture into balls, tie it to a string or place it in a mesh bag, freeze it, and then hang it from branches in your garden. Finally, just take your chilled mix and spread it over the tree branches. Birds love suet, no matter how it’s presented to them.

Water is another essential element to attract birds to your garden. A simple birdbath is easy to make using a large saucer designed to sit under a pot.

Fill with water and keep it cool and clean.

Plastic or ceramic birdbaths are also inexpensive and also make a nice decoration in your garden. There are also birdbath heaters, items that are submerged in birdbaths and plugged in to prevent the water from freezing in very cold weather.

If you are an avid bird watcher, you may want to invest in a heater so that the birds have a constant source of water.

Finally, birds need some kind of shelter or shelter for their protection; this is easily provided by shrubs or trees in your garden. Any type of shrubs or trees will work; Rose bushes and evergreens are great for mulching, as is your summer garden waste.

Or, install birdhouses in your landscape; they are easily purchased at any home and garden center. There are also instructions on how to build a birdhouse, which are easily found on the Internet.

By following these simple steps, you can attract birds to your yard all winter long and enjoy the show they put on. Nothing is more beautiful than a bright red cardinal in your garden on a snowy winter’s day.

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