In the garden
Winter: it’s for the birds
The celebrations and obligations of the holiday season added to an already busy life can make this time of the year hectic and stressful. A few moments each day watching birds at a backyard birdfeeder often provide an interesting and entertaining break that most people find they want to keep in their life long after the holidays have ended.
Now is an excellent time to start feeding the birds according to John Coe, Henrico Master Gardener and president of the Virginia Audubon Council. “We’re just now seeing an influx of the birds that winter here,” he said.
“I’ve had Eastern bluebirds, yellow-rumped warblers and cedar waxwings at my feeder already,” added Coe. He has also seen white-throated sparrows and dark-eyed juncos.
In our area, unless we have very severe weather, birds can survive on their own, so people who begin feeding birds don’t have to worry about potentially harming them if they leave the feeder empty for a few days.
“I travel,” said Coe. “Only in extreme circumstances could you harm your birds by feeding them and suddenly cutting them off.”
Many different styles of feeders are available. Coe uses an open platform feeder, which looks much like a tray, as well as tube feeders and suet logs. And he makes sure some seed is also on the ground.
The type of feeder, like the type of seed you use, will determine what kind of birds visit your backyard.
“You find good quality and not-so-good quality seed mixtures available,” said Coe. “With bird seed, you really get what you pay for.”
Coe says that a mixture of black oil sunflower seeds, millet and fine ground cracked corn will attract many birds that winter in central Virginia such as cardinals, chickadees, nuthatches, house finches, and titmice. He recommends buying the separate components and mixing them yourself for the best results.
“Water is very important, too” said Coe. “Many people forget all about providing water.”
Birds like shallow water, nothing “over their knees.” Water containers should only be 2-3” deep without a slippery surface. You’ll need to remember to change the water regularly to keep it clean. You can also add a small heater or just remove any ice that forms on cold days.
Place your feeder where birds can find shelter quickly. “Birds like to be able to hide,” said Coe. Shrubs, brush or even a slightly used Christmas tree can provide shelter.
When you put out your feeder, remember that it sometimes takes a while before the birds show up. If no birds arrive after 10 days, you’ll need to move your feeder or try waiting until bad weather.
“Once you’ve got them, they’ll stay as long as the food is there,” said Coe. “And birds are wonderful creatures to watch.”
Reynolds Community College will host Richmond sculptor Paul DiPasquale Sept. 28 as he shares his presentation “Art Talk, Why Art Matters” from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Conference Center Gallery of the Workforce Development and Conference Center on the Parham Road Campus, located at 1651 E. Parham Road in Richmond. This event is free and open to the public. > Read more.
The Children's Clothing Closet at Highland Springs United Methodist Church will be open Saturday, Aug. 27 and Tuesday, Aug. 30 to provide free new or nearly new children's clothing for families in need, prior to the start of the school year. The Clothing Closet will be open from 10 a.m. to noon both days. The church is located at 22 North Holly Avenue. > Read more.
Beautiful fall weather is back this weekend! Don’t leave your favorite pooch at home – take the whole family to Canine Companions’ DogFest Walk ‘n Roll at West Broad Village or FETCH a Cure’s annual Mutt Strutt at Deep Run Park. Pets are also welcome at this weekend’s Central Virginia Celtic Festival and Highland Games. Halloween events taking place Sunday include the University of Richmond’s 18th annual Trick or Treat Street and Goblins and Gourds at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
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Oct. 20, 2016Click here to read the print edition.
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CalendarLewis Ginter Botanical Garden will host October Oddities Oct. 1-31 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Refresh your “garden spirit” with displays and activities for all ages throughout the month of October. Enjoy vignettes designed to provoke a sense of curiosity and wonder using underappreciated oddities of nature and “horti-torture.” Pick up a Gourd Quest at the admissions desk before heading down to the Children’s Garden. Included with regular admission which is $13 for adults, $11 for seniors 55+ and $8 for children 3-12. For details, visit http://www.lewisginter.org. Full text