Winter may have just begun but the yard doesn’t have to be lifeless for the next few chilly months. A backyard bird feeder will attract the birds that stay up north for the season and add interest and activity to your yard.
Bird Feeder Ideas
Plant hangers holding a pie tin or baking pan with holes punched in the bottom for drainage (in case of rain) will work as feeders. A simple wood frame 18 (or so) inches square, with screening makes an excellent bird feeder. Mount it on a 4 x 4 post with lengths of 2 x 4s as a base, and you’ll have a feeder that will last several years and attract birds year round.
Place your bird feeders near bushes or a tree where the birds can hide, in case of predators (the neighbor’s cat) but don’t hide the feeder from view of your window.
Alberta’s winter birds
Birds you’re likely to see in southern Alberta will be sparrows, chickadees, nuthatches, buntings and finches; you may even see bluebirds and woodpeckers.
Seeds birds love
Millet is the tiny golden or white seed found in most bags of mixed birdseed, sparrows love it!
Sunflower seeds are a favorite of many birds, add black-oil seeds to the mix, they have a thinner shell and are easier for smaller birds crack open.
Most birds (except finches) love cracked corn but squirrels like it too, so be warned!
A pond, fountain or birdbath will also attract birds to the yard at least three seasons of the year.
Calgary’s Inglewood Bird Sanctuary
Take a break from the cold and plan a Saturday outing to Inglewood Bird Sanctuary. Find out which birds call Alberta home in the protected and undisturbed natural beauty of the sanctuary; if you visit during spring or fall you’ll get to observe birds migrating south or returning home. It’s open all year and their winter hours from October through April are Tuesday to Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and May through September: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Wildlife Photo Ops
Don’t forget your camera, if you’re lucky you might catch a glimpse of a fox or weasel, maybe even a white-tailed or mule deer. But back to the topic of birds; a few of the species seen regularly at Inglewood Bird Sanctuary are the American Robin, Canada Goose, Belted Kingfisher, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Harlequin Duck and Wood Duck, Common Merganser, Savannah Sparrow and the Say’s Phoebe.
In May 2011 a Swainson’s hawk attracted the attention of sanctuary visitors, read about the hawk and all of the above birds on the Birds Calgary Birding Blog.
Photo credits: Belted Kingfisher from Wikimedia Commons, Savannah sparrow from conservationphotos.com, woodlink feeder from sunriseseeds.com