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Cape Cod Birds in Winter

Cape Cod Birds in Winter

My husband and I get great pleasure from the birds in our yard. We take delight in seeing the kaleidoscope of colors and motion that they provide twelve months of the year. “The bird ballet,” I call it. Although we provide seed and fresh water in all seasons, in the winter it’s not as much for our enjoyment as it is for their survival. The food and freshly filled birdbath that makes us smile all summer and fall is essential for a bird’s existence in the winter and early spring.

Here is what I’ve learned from feeding birds on the Cape for over 20 years:

  1. When you provide shelled sunflower seed, or a blend of mostly shelled with a few in-shell seeds, you attract a wide range of birds and it makes less mess in the garden. Less expensive bird blends often include seeds that most birds don’t eat, and these just fall to the ground and grow in the warm season. More weeds to pull! No thankyou.
  2. We don’t put out suet from May through October because there are insects that provide protein in the warm season. But in the winter we place High Energy Suet in our feeders because this is pure suet without any of the seeds or other ingredients that the birds may or may not want. Again, this attracts a wide range of birds from all of the woodpeckers to the chickadees that eat the crumbs that the flickers send flying.
  3. It’s important to put out some fresh seed around 2 o’clock in the winter. In the coldest weather the birds need to take in calories in the late afternoon that will sustain them during the very long nights. But since they hunker down in their sheltering places just before dark it’s important to put that seed out two hours before sundown.
  4. Fresh water is as valued as seed…sometimes more so! We have a heated birdbath and I try to change the water twice a day. Birds will  drink and bathe in a heated bath so emptying out any water that contains bird poop is important. The heater we got at Hyannis Country Garden has lasted for several years.
    A bluebird and a titmouse share the feeder and enjoy shelled sunflower seed.

    A bluebird and a titmouse share the feeder and enjoy shelled sunflower seed. In the bottom right corner you see part of the stone table that is a display area for potted plants in the summer and a place for ground-feeders such as cardinals to dine in the winter. 

    We have a finch feeder that we fill with Wild Delight fine sunflower chips on our grape arbor, along with the suet holder on the right. Using fine sunflower chips in the finch feeder not only pleases the finches but all of the woodpeckers too.

    We have a finch feeder that we fill with Wild Delight fine sunflower chips on our grape arbor, along with the suet holder on the right. Using fine sunflower chips in the finch feeder not only pleases the finches but all of the woodpeckers too.

    We get such pleasure from all of our birds...be they wild turkeys, crows, cardinals or bluebirds. Even the cement raven brings smiles to our faces in January!

    We get such pleasure from all of our birds…be they wild turkeys, crows, cardinals or bluebirds. Even the cement raven brings smiles to our faces in January! 

    In addition to providing bird seed, suet and fresh water, you can support Cape Cod’s birds by planting a diverse selection of plants in your yards and gardens. Native holly, Eastern red cedar, wild cherry trees, oaks, bayberry and many other native plants will attract birds of all sorts. Watch for future posts about specific plants that sustain our birds and provide a beautiful landscape for you to enjoy in all seasons!

12 Comments

  1. Naomi Just on December 29, 2016 at 6:42 am

    This is a very nice addition to your already excellent newsletter.

    • CLFornari on December 29, 2016 at 7:02 am

      Thanks, Naomi. We update our blog weekly with something that’s of interest to those who love their Cape Cod landscapes as much as we do, and a link to that post is usually at the bottom of every newsletter. I’m so glad you enjoy them both!

  2. Susan Webb on December 29, 2016 at 8:39 pm

    What a pleasurable mini read on this wintry night. Thank you for the tips: 2 o’clock feeder fill and heated water. Very welcome newsletter.

  3. Bob Lewsen on December 30, 2016 at 8:39 am

    Thank you, good advice!

    • CLFornari on December 31, 2016 at 1:18 pm

      Thanks for reading and responding, Bob. Happy New Year!

  4. Julia Oliver on December 31, 2016 at 1:01 pm

    I so appreciate you and the knowledge you share. May this new year be good to you and those you love.

    • CLFornari on December 31, 2016 at 1:17 pm

      Thanks, Julia! Happy New Year to you and to all the HCG customers and readers.

    • CLFornari on December 31, 2016 at 1:18 pm

      Julia – wishing you all the best for the New Year as well.

  5. Linda Cahoon on February 16, 2017 at 7:04 am

    Read every article and save them in a file to refer back too. Thanks

    • CLFornari on February 16, 2017 at 7:34 am

      That’s so nice to hear, Linda. Thanks!

  6. Emily Woudenberg on March 4, 2017 at 9:48 am

    This particular article on feeding the birds was worth re-reading this weekend (March 4-5), when the temperatures are forecast to go down to the teens and maybe single digits. I’m making sure to replenish the water in my heated birdbath every day thanks to you, not to mention the suet feeders. The birds are really flocking to both. They seem to know.
    Now if there were just something I could do to keep the big-leaf hydrangeas happy tonight. . .

    • CLFornari on March 4, 2017 at 12:15 pm

      I hope that the hydrangeas survive the spring cold snaps too, Emily!

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