How to: Doubling Christmas Decorations as Bird Habitats

How to: Doubling Christmas Decorations as Bird Habitats

When the temperatures get low and snow flurries fly freely, our bird friends need thermal cover—a place away from the cold and wind. Even outside of New England climates, an especially chilly night can leave birds seeking a warm shelter.

In the dark months of January and February, that cozy shelter can be hard to come by, without any leaves on deciduous trees. You can make it easier for the birds in your backyard by adding an evergreen element to your home bird environment.

Wild birds naturally look for winter cover in evergreen trees, utilizing their dense needles for protection against rain, snow, and wind. Now that Christmas has passed, you can take your tree and wreaths and stow them near feeders and birdbaths! This will breathe new life into them as a shelter and space for birds to linger. Even if you’ve already sent your Christmas tree to the dump or disposed of it in some other way, snipping or purchasing a few treetops or spruce boughs can do the trick— just arrange them in a bouquet and leave it near your feeders!

Come springtime, planting conifers including spruces, firs, cedars, yews, and pines, or even shrubs, also will provide a nice and safe thermal cover. Don’t forget about predators, such as hawks, either. Evergreens also provide safety for birds to duck away from danger.

When food supplies run short, some evergreen shrubs like juniper provide berries that persist in the winter when other necessary food sources are scarce.

So, in short, don’t just toss away your Christmas decorations. Your backyard birds will thank you and greatly benefit from them!

Going the Extra Mile…

If you’re looking to go the extra mile, small birds also love sheltering in brush piles, nest boxes, and tree cavities. Birds are known to use nest boxes as shelters all year-round—so leave them up!

While nobody likes to see weeds in their yard, the seed heads of tall plants like Eutrochium (Joe pye) and goldenrod (Solidago spp.) stick out above the snow during the winter and provide food for birds! Inside of goldenrod stems exists gall fly larvae, a rare source of protein for our feathered friends like chickadees, or woodpeckers that can peck into the galls.

To finalize, here’s a list of plants that offer nuts and berries all year that your backyard birds will love: Holly tree (Ilex spp.), Chokecherry (Aronia spp.), most Hawthorn trees (Crataegus spp.), Eastern Juniper (Juniperus virginiana), Sumac (Rhus spp.), Crabapple (Malus spp.), Viburnum shrubs (often called arrowwood), native roses (e.g., Rosa arkansana), Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), and White Oak (Quercus alba).

For more on keeping wild birds safe, happy, and well-fed, call now or come on down to A.W. Brown’s and speak to one of our experts!

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