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The Backyard Birder, Issue #005 December winter is here. It is time to fill your bird feeders.
December 02, 2007
Merry Christmas,

The arrival of December means winter has arrived. It is the time when the heaviest bird feeder use begins. Put the finishing touches on your feeding station by adding any needed bird feeders. Fill your feeders with a variety of bird foods including sunflower seed, nyger seed, quality wild bird seed mixes and suet.

The first big snow storms will hit many areas this month. You may notice wild birds feeding at a fast pace before a storm hits. You may need to fill your bird feeders more often during these times. After the storm passes, you will need to clear the snow from the feeders to make it easier for the wild birds to feed.

Heavy snow fall in Canada may send many species of wild birds into your area. You could see pine siskins, redpolls, evening grosbeaks and crossbills along with your regular visitors.

If you live in an area where temperatures hover around freezing, you may want to add a heated birdbath. You will be surprised by the large numbers of wild birds that are attracted to open water in the winter.

Have you ever participated in a bird count? If not, you’re missing out on a great opportunity. There are two national bird counts held in the winter. There is the Annual Christmas Bird Count in December and the Great Backyard Bird Count in February. The Annual Christmas Bird Count is the best known nation wide (actually multi-national) count. This count has run annually for 107 years. It takes place from December 14 through January 4 each year. This event is a lot of fun and can be very educational, especially if you are a beginning birder. Click here for more information.

If you use a natural Christmas tree don't throw it out after Christmas. Place it near your bird feeding station. It will provide welcomed shelter throughout the winter. You can even decorate it using the bird seed tree ornaments described below.

December Checklist:

  • Put out all the bird feeders that you can.
  • Fill your bird feeders with a variety of bird foods.
  • Keep your feeders full prior to snow storms and clean them off once the storm passes.
  • Put out a heated birdbath to attract even more wild birds.
  • Sign up for the Annual Christmas Bird Count.
  • Once you are finished with your Christmas tree, place it near your feeder station.

December Recipe:

One of my favorite holiday activities is decorating the garden with items that wild birds enjoy, such as these bread and birdseed ornaments. These ornaments are easy to create and a fun project to do with your children.

Materials:

  • pre-sliced sandwich bread (extra-thin works best)
  • peanut butter
  • bird seed
  • twine or raffia
  • cookie cutters in simple Christmas shapes
  • ice pick

Directions:

Simply place the bread on a flat surface and cut out your shape with a cookie cutter. Depending on the size of your cookie cutter, you will probably be able to make one ornament per slice of bread.

Poke a hole through the top of the ornament with a sharp stick or ice pick. Take a piece of raffia or twine and string it through the hole you made at the top of the ornament. Tie a knot to create a loop.

Either toast the bread or allow it to dry overnight. The peanut butter acts as glue for the bird seed. Spread your bird seed mix out on a cookie sheet. Spread peanut butter on both sides of the bread. Then press the peanut butter covered ornament onto the bird seed mix on both sides. Allow them to dry overnight.

Now you are ready to hang your bird seed ornament out in the garden. I like to place these in locations where I can easily see them from indoors, but also close to shrubs and trees where birds will feel safe.

News from my feeding station in November:

Traffic at my feeders is now limited to my winter residents. There is a steady flow of chickadees, juncos, nuthatches, blue jays, gold finches, mourning doves, downey woodpeckers, hairy woodpeckers and the occasional cardinal. I now have to fill my feeders about twice per week.

The squirrels are not coming around as much any more. I think my new feeding station design is finally working.

Happy birding, I will talk to you in January.

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