Monthly Archives: December 2010

Birds in Winter

A male Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes caro...

Red-bellied Woodpecker

I spotted a pair of crows ( or where they ravens?),  pecking away at the frozen surface of my bird bath trying, no doubt, to extract water from its depths to no avail.   I had forgotten how important fresh water is for the birds in winter.  I made a note to myself to look into a bird bath heater.  According to Cornell Lab of Ornithology, once you have incorporated a bird bath to your habitat, it is likely that they will keep coming back thought the winter months looking for water in that location.  I will let you know what I come up with.

Here in Western Pennsylvania we have a wide variety of birds that stay during the winter.  As a participant of the Great Backyard Bird Count, I have observed more than 36 different species in my backyard feeder alone.  In addition to our regular winter birds, I enjoy a breeding pair of Red Tailed Hawks that regularly patrol the feeders, Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers, and my favorite, the Red-bellied Woodpeckers,  often visit the suet blocks.  Another source of food for the winter birds, are the seed heads  of Rudbeckias such as Black-eyed Susan and Echinacea like the Purple coneflower. I keep one feeder full in the winter months specially when snow blankets all vegetation,  this is when the birds have the hardest time finding food.

I value my garden more for being full of blackbirds than of cherries, and very frankly give them fruit for their songs.  ~Joseph Addison, The Spectator, 1712

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Suffering from Gardening Withdrawal.

There was flurry of activity to finish the last fall chores before this cold frigid weather set in.  New beds were prepared and mulched,  more shrubs and perennials planted and bulbs set in the ground.  Compost spread, a great bounty of leaves mulched and raked back into the beds, hoses and all garden accessories  and tools put away for the winter…  Phew!  That certainly was a lot of work, which for us gardeners does not “feel” like work, of course.  Instead, I felt toned and strong after hours in the sunny but cool fall air, watching as nature put out its last hurrah before the inevitable winter slumber.

Withdrawal, my friends, is far worse.  I look outside now and feel that, in the space of a couple of weeks, we have been transported to a frigid inhospitable planet.  Outside, a frozen landscape.  the weather report is for several days of below freezing temperatures and several inches of snow…

It is an adjustment, but on the other hand, I now have more time to read, go thru the new offerings of magazines and catalogues and more importantly, plan new projects for the year ahead.  Dream on!

“Winter is the time of promise because there is so little to do – or because you can now and then permit yourself the luxury of thinking so.” ~Stanley Crawford