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.”
Emily Francis (left) of Richmond Green Drinks and Cary Jamieson of The Steward School checked out the cherry tomato crop Aug. 20 at the school's Bryan Innovation Lab following a visit by members of Green Drinks. Jamieson, director of the Bryan Innovation Lab, was among the speakers who pointed out various sustainable features of the building and its surroundings, including geothermal, solar photovoltaic and solar thermal energy systems, as well as rain gardens and large storage cisterns (like the one pictured) to minimize groundwater pollution. > Read more.
For the third consecutive year, the Canterbury Recreation Association in Short Pump donated the most meals to the fourth-annual "Dunk Hunger" campaign, which raises money and food donations for FeedMore's Central Virginia Food Bank. Swim teams and community pools throughout the region combined to raise the equivalent of 77,404 meals this year, with the Canterbury group earning the Gold Medal, with 17,454 meals contributed.
CRA will earn a winners’ bash Aug. 24 from 3 to 5 p.m. at its pool on Pump Road.
“Our pool has adopted Dunk Hunger into its culture with fun ways to raise food and funds," said Canterbury’s Dunk Hunger chairman Jack McSorley, a Freeman High School junior. > Read more.
Henrico County has a lot to offer this Labor Day weekend! Before summer ends completely, you’ve got to try some Virginia wines at Southern Season’s weekly event, Fridays Uncorked. Check out The Comedy Dad, Alex Scott, at the Richmond Funny Bone or put your thinking caps on and take on The Escape Room. This weekend also features a two-day event at Malvern Hill and Carrington Kay at The Tin Pan. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
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