Colder than normal weather this week of April 13-19 will slow the arrival of spring flowers and hinder gardeners eager to get started. If there are some times during the week when soils are firm and partly dry, clean up of gardens can proceed. If these conditions are absent this week one of the best activities may be providing some food sources for birds and other wildlife. We are the stewards of the wildlife. Resident birds and migratory birds would appreciate an assist during this late winter/spring of our discontent! By turning up the leaves under shrubs, not only does this disturb the soil a little – but it will also interrupt the insects which will provide a meal or two for our feathered friends.
Put out new birdhouses, remove last year’s nests from existing houses, place small lengths of string, yarn and wool out for birds to use in making new nests, and think about planting bird friendly trees and shrubs that mimic natural habitat. Some of these trees and shrubs include the Serviceberry, Red Osier Dogwood, Cotoneaster, Burning Bush, Bush Honeysuckle, Flowering Crabs and Showy Mtn. Ash.
Clean out your feeders and keep food fresh and provide a water source for the birds. If birds that are early arrivals are able to find a few extra morsels of food during a colder than normal week, it could help them get by under warmer days arrive and naturally occurring plant and insect food sources become available. Typical bird seed and suet are a good food source for some birds. For other birds, try putting out a variety of foods such as sunflower seeds, millet (which is great for small billed birds who can’t handle the sunflower seeds as well), orange halves, and grape jelly. Softened raisins and over-ripe fruit that has been cut up is another offering for your “bird menu”. With nesting occurring and new young to be fed – crushed up egg shells are a good source of calcium for the birds.
Blue bird enthusiasts have found that providing mealworms and a special concoction called Bluebird Banquet by Linda Janilla from Bluebird Trails book can be a lifesaver during the winter to spring transition. Other sources of food for these birds can include chopped up hard boiled egg yolks, corn bread and even small amounts of canned dog food.
Bluebird Banquet Recipe: 1 cup peanut butter; 4 cups yellow cornmeal; 1 cup rendered suet, melted; 1 cup flour; 1 cup small raisins; 1 cup small sunflower chips; and 1 cup peanut hearts. (If organic cornmeal is used, omit the flour)