Snow has been falling steadily all day here in New Jersey, and while that gorgeous blanket of snow is a peaceful sight for those of us warm and indoors, for the birds outside it can be a trying time. Many food sources get covered by the snow, competition is increased for available food, and the birds need to consume a lot more fuel to stay warm through the day and night, particularly during the occasional polar vortex weather pattern. We do what we can to help birds out by keeping our suet feeder stocked, topping up the peanut and seed feeders, and scattering seed on the ground in a few different sheltered areas for ground feeders. When we see the birds fighting more often than usual or queuing up to visit the suet feeder, it’s often a hint that a little bit more may be required.
To get ideas for what treats to provide to the birds, we consult Projects for the Birder’s Garden: Over 100 Easy Things That You can Make to Turn Your Yard and Garden into a Bird-Friendly Haven. It’s a tremendous resource and I can’t recommend it enough! Today we made the Coco Cabana on page 57 – all it required was a coconut, a screw eye and some basic tools we had at the ready in our toolbox. It was fun to do and I must say the feeder looks fantastic hanging out there! I wonder who the first visitor will be? The curious chickadee? The determined nuthatch?
At our feeder station today we’ve seen cardinals, carolina wrens, juncos, tufted titmice, chickadees, blue jays, white-throated sparrows, a house finch, a white-breasted nuthatch, house sparrows, downy woodpeckers, hairy woodpeckers, and a red-bellied woodpecker. There was an exciting turn of events today – just before we hung up the Coco Cabana, all the birds shouted their alarm calls and scattered far and wide as if their lives depended on it! Sure enough we saw a female cooper’s hawk sitting, thwarted, under our bird feeders. Even birds of prey need to eat after all!