Jarrod E. Stephens
The Ashland Beacon
Winter has its way of making us all spend more time looking out the window dreaming of a warmer, greener time. However, as you stare it’s likely that you notice a lot more birds and wildlife around your yard during the barren months. If you have a flower bed, garden or lots of trees on your property you have the exact recipe for having a lot of “wild” friends in the winter.
While I’ve never considered myself a “bird watcher,” I do love watching the colorful birds scavenge the shrubs and bushes around our home. It’s not only entertaining but quite relaxing. Aside from the birds it’s also equally entertaining to watch the squirrels as they bravely enter our yard to collect a walnut. Since the critters do bring so much joy to our everyday lives it’s only fitting that we look for ways to help them out a little during the winter.
Feeding birds doesn’t require you to purchase an expensive feeder. Instead you can simply scatter the seed or place it atop fence posts. Kids can even create the ever-famous pinecone feeder by smearing peanut butter on the cone and rolling it in bird seed. Once the seed is discovered you’ll notice immediate competition. Cardinals and snow birds seem to be the most populous right now but there’s always the chance you’ll attract mourning doves, blue jays, and white throated sparrows. It’s especially awesome to feed them when a snow is on.
If you find out that the local squirrel population begins to take over your bird feeders you can limit their destruction by suspending your feeders with a wire instead of perching them atop a post. Better yet, you can also provide whole-ear or shelled corn for the squirrels to limit their impact on your bird feeders. Believe me, when you start watching squirrels at a feeding site you’ll suddenly have flashbacks of sibling rivalries that you’ve either been part of or witnessed. It’s truly entertaining and worth the price of admission: some corn.
For those of you who live in an area with plenty of space and either a deer or turkey population nearby, you can also invest in a larger automatic corn feeder to place in the woods around your home. They aren’t only for the hunters. Some feeders can hold a few hundred pounds of shelled corn and since they are battery/solar operated they’ll need little attention from you once they are set up. Game animals both small and great will develop an appreciation for the free vittles and you’ll get to reap the benefits of watching from your window.
I do want to caution that if you are a gardener then it’s not a good idea to draw animals to a location where you will be growing your veggies in the spring and summer. Animals truly are “creatures of habit” and they will continue to visit a feeding site long after the last grain is gone and will begin eating your plants when springtime does finally arrive. It is also equally important to know that if you are a turkey hunter that you cannot have an active feeder on your hunting plot beginning on March 1 through May 31.
Don’t forget that feeding wildlife of any type does come with some responsibility. Always follow state wildlife regulations when it comes to feeding wild game and never immediately cease feeding once you’ve begun. An abrupt stoppage is the equivalent of your favorite grocery store completely shutting down and cutting off your food supply which forces you and everyone else to go to another location. If the cold weather has you standing and watching out the window, now’s the time to invite some of nature’s most entertaining critters to your property with some wintertime treats. There’s no shame in being a wintertime window watcher.