Part of having a garden is how it becomes a habitat for song birds, they love to feast on the insects attracted by the plants and flowers. Our little feathered friends flitting about the yard and garden in the spring and summer, feeding on bugs and seeds. When winter comes, the insect population has gone into hibernation leaving only the leftovers of the garden from which birds can find a meal. Many of us like to have the little guests stay around through the winter months, but without a food supply the will take up residence elsewhere.
Some people take the time to purchase seed and keep feeders in their yard for the birds, but there is another way we can help feed our feathered guests. Allowing the flowers to dry naturally leaving behind the seeds nestled in the flower heads is a very simple and practical way to keep a food source for the birds through winter. No trips to the store and no rouge squirrels to trash your expensive bird feeders trying to get a snack. This is just letting nature take it’s course.
Small birds like finches and chickadees will actually perch on the flower to eat. Thistle, golden rod and daisy-like flowers are some favorites for the smaller birds. Larger yard birds, such as sparrows and cardinals will scratch and peck about the ground underneath the flowers to forage a meal. The larger birds are fond of sages, grasses, evening primrose to give a few ideas. Planing ahead in the spring to cultivate these flowers and plants will give way to a hearty feast for the birds in the winter.
If you insist on cleaning up the garden in the fall as to not have dried plant stock everywhere, try making bundles of dried flowers. These could be tied into little bouquets and hung on your fence line, fastened to a tree or poke a few into a flower pot and make a dining spot for the birds. One plus to leaving the dried plants in the garden is that any seed not consumed by the birds will give you a head start on flowers in the spring. I myself love to see what sprouts up in the spring as leftovers from the fall. Having this natural food source is a real treat if you are a bird watcher. Take advantage of the situation and photograph some of the birds that stop by your yard for a meal.
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