The elements of a habitat are food, shelter, and water .

 

FOOD:

The element of food is the big call to action for most birds. In order to attract them to your yard they most observe clear and reliable sources of food to consider your yard. Some fall-fruiting native trees and shrubs with winter persistent fruits usually do the trick and include: 

  • Dogwood

  • Black Gum

  • Oaks

  • Eastern red cedar

  • Sumac

  • American cranberry bush 

  • Viburnum

  • Northern bayberry

  • American holly

  • Winterberry holly (include male and female plants for cross-pollination)

 

Fruits of these trees and shrubs may remain long after ripening and may not be eaten by birds until frozen and thawed many times. These are important food sources for overwintering birds and early spring arrivals.  

 

SHELTER:

Safety, biosecurity against disease, and protection from predators are the next set of conditions on a bird’s shopping for a winter home. Offer hiding places for birds as well as nesting materials:

  • Leave the Leaves
  • Don’t cut back ornamental grass until, early spring
  • Plant low evergreen shrubs
  • Include fuller foliage shrubs and perennials
  • Clean bird boxes and buy birdseed on the same week you buy Halloween candy

 

And BONUS, this is a 3-fold win! When left in place, perennial and shrub beds serve as mulch that breaks down into organic matter while suppressing weeds. And finally, leaves and shrubs harbor caterpillars, worms and other beneficial insects. plus reducing weeds

 

WATER:

Providing a frost proof water source such as a pond, low bowl or bird bath is the final welcoming element. Don’t put your bird bath away! Birds need fresh water for drinking and bathing throughout the fall season. Clean frequently and keep filled with fresh water.  When temperatures are freezing, it helps birds to break up the ice, or to install a heater of some kind.   

EXTRA WINTER CARE:

If you want to be a bird's best friend, research what birds you want to see that are native to your region and get specific seed or suet. Feed from during winter and into early spring when natural food sources are less available. Birds can be fed year round; it's also okay to stop feeding for short periods or permanently, but you’ll notice less birds or lower frequency of visits. Black oil sunflower seeds and suet cakes are a good choice for a wide variety of birds. To attract your favorite species you have to provide the right combination of food and feeders.

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