I have heard the term ‘birdscaping’ used recently and to say the least this peaked my interest. We are all, or should all, be very cognizant of the other creatures who call our urban landscape home. This past season I enlarged my pollinator garden, refreshed the water feature and installed several new shrubs all with the intent of inviting my animal, insect and bird neighbours. Perhaps as I progress towards the golden or bronze years, I do pay more attention to the wildlife. After dressing the garden for winter it came to my attention that there really wasn’t enough winter food for my remaining feathered friends. The Nanny berry is pretty well stripped already, it’s only November! Mountain Ash is still holding lots of berries, but the early frost snap has them, well let’s say, fermented. Have you ever seen Cedar Waxwings that have imbibed in the libations offered from “ice wine Mountain Ash”? It is hilarious as the poor things gobble down what is anticipated as a hearty meal only to succumb to the rigours of alcohol taken in excess. Flight patterns are not the least normal nor are their movements. I notice a few birds regurgitate the “red devil cocktails”, shake their heads, fluff their feathers and proceed on the flight of shame back to their nest. Safe to say that Mountain Ash berries should not be the only source of food for the birds in the early winter garden.
Plants that may bring a nutritious and less harmful food source for the birds could be Elderberry and of course Holly. In some regions of the country, dogwoods also provide a nutritious snack for migrating feathered friends.
Check with your local nursery or plant supplier for the most suitable trees and or shrubs for the birds of your region. The local birders will have oodles of ideas that dovetail perfectly with what provision of seeds and feeds are most appropriate for your part of the country.
It is very important to realize that once you provide a food source, no matter what it is, that you are consistent. Bird feeders must be kept stocked for the entire season as the birds depend on this source; same goes for plant materials. When considering bird feed for your part of the country, check carefully as there are a great many to chose from. You would be wise to consult with an agency such as the Canadian Wildlife Federation or your local birder community for what is best and most nutritious for the species of birds in your region.
My intention is to plant additional fall fruiting species in my rear gardens next spring so as to attract and keep as many species of birds as I can. In the mean time, my feeders are cleaned, filled and ready for action. The next issue will be convincing the drunken Cedar Waxwings that the sunflower seeds are better for them than the ice wine berries of the Mountain Ash.
November 25th, 2018