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Cannon: Provide shelter for birds during winter
A common question asked of the Hall County Extension office, brought to you by Wanda Cannon
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What can you do with the leftover Christmas tree in January?

Try creating a backyard shelter with a leftover tree, used as protection for birds and other small wildlife in the winter. Also find creative ways to supply the birds with food.

January is that one month when providing shelter, as well as food and water, may really make a difference to the birds in your backyard. When we have cold, ice and sometimes a little snow, food and shelter can be scarce for our feathered friends.

Did you know that many birds do not migrate in the winter to warmer climates? This means we need to consider supplying birds with some food options. Permanent bird residents will appreciate a high-calorie mix loaded with black oil sunflower seeds, peanuts or suet.

Cardinals, chickadees and nuthatches love sunflower seeds. Woodpeckers will be thankful for a steady source of suet. Bluejays are also homebodies and they love peanuts. Sprinkle white millet in and around bushes in your yard just before dark and enjoy watching some backyard chaos as different ground feeding birds enjoy their meal.

Then, water and water some more. Even though it may give you the shivers to see birds splashing away in the cold, this actually helps the birds stay warm. Birds need open water to drink, as many water sources may be frozen.

Kids really enjoy creating birdfeeders using pine cones rolled in peanut butter and birdseed. Help children hang them in a tree or bush where they can easily watch the birds feed through a window or door.

Feeding and sheltering the birds in the winter can bring lots of colorful activity to your yard. Spread out some thistle seed and suet cakes and see if it attracts some beautiful birds that you might not have seen before.

Wanda Cannon is a Master Gardener trained through the Hall County program and also serves as Master Gardener coordinator and horticulture assistant for the Hall County Extension office. Phone: 770-535-8293.

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