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Pelham - Windham News

April 23, 2010 - Home Improvement 5

How to care for your feathered garden friends year-round

Your garden says a lot about who you are.

By carefully choosing and arranging plants, tilling soil, and caring for your flowers and vegetables, you bring a part of nature into your life.

the plants, gardens attract wildlife. Rabbits and squirrels, butterflies and birds all enjoy your garden, adding to the beauty. Birds in particular bring great joy to a

garden. The lovely melodies in the air and brightly colored plumage of birds bring your backyard habitats to life as warmer weather approaches; a reminder spring is returning once again. With this natural cycle of life come changing needs for the fine feathered friends you welcome into your gardens and hearts each year. Taking note of these necessities will not only increase the number of birds who visit, but will make these guests happier and healthier. According to experts like John Robinson,

chief ornithologist at Scotts, wild bird feeding is important year-round, no matter where you live. “Feeding birds in extreme northerly climates may increase the survival rates of some birds during unusually cold winters,” he says. “Even if you live in the South, remember that many of the birds wintering in your yard must change into their breeding plumage, migrate back north in spring, find a mate, build a nest and lay eggs.” It follows that, as winter gives way to spring,

gardeners should consider the birds that will soon be migrating back into their area. Essential elements for a great bird habitat include a fresh source of water, bushes and trees that offer birds a place to forage and/or nest while protecting them from predators, a variety of feeders or feeding stations, a brush pile for extra shelter when the weather is still volatile, and houses for those birds that nest in cavities. Make sure that any bird houses or feeders are clean and in good repair to provide your avian friends with a safe, welcoming backyard habitat. If you want to continue to attract birds

to your garden, make sure you’re offering fresh, high-quality foods on a regular basis. Once you establish your yard as a successful source of food, your feathery

In addition to the visual appeal of

friends will continue to return. The experts at Scotts have a wide array of information about feeding wild birds available on their Website—

Here are some of the basics:

* Suet - Because of its high fat content, suet

is a great source of high-energy nutrients for birds. It can be found in a wide array of flavors, ranging from plain suet to blocks enhanced with things like peanuts, seeds and dried fruit. It’s a favorite of many wild birds, including woodpeckers. Suet and suet cages are readily available in most home improvement stores and can be easily hung from any tree branch. * Thistle - This seed is perfect for attracting

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colorful, delicate finches to your yard. Because thistle seeds are so tiny, you will need a special feeder or ‘sock’ designed specifically for this type of seed. Hang a thistle sock outside a window, or in full view of your garden sitting area to get a good look when birds inevitably swoop in to pull out the slender seeds that are among their favorite foods.

If you have

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had a problem with squirrels stealing your bird seed in the past, you’ll be glad to know squirrels aren’t particularly attracted to thistle and will most likely not bother a thistle sock.

* Wild bird food mix - A healthy mixed food,

like Scotts Multi-Bird Blend with Fruit and Nuts, can be a bird-watcher’s best friend. With greatly varied ingredients appealing to a multitude of birds, you never know just who will visit your feeder. Keep the binoculars and cameras handy

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to get a glimpse of unusual species. Scotts now also offers a variety of other bird food blends that will attract specific species or types of birds (songbirds, colorful birds, finches, or cardinals for example) for enhanced bird watching. Keep in mind

that if you don’t have a feeder, you can easily make one or purchase an inexpensive pressed seed cake (often in the shape of a bell) that you simply hang outside. Children may enjoy making their own pine cone feeders using just a pine cone coated in peanut butter and bird seed. This quick, easy bird feeder provides birds with the nutrition they need in colder temperatures. Feeding the feath- ery visitors in your backyards doesn’t just benefit the birds; it can also

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