The Gift of Nature

     At the end of every holiday shopping list there is a name. No matter how hard you try, you can’t check it off your list. It might be a favorite Aunt who loves gardening, or grandmother who golfs. Maybe it’s your own father who occasionally fly fishes. Although they have interesting hobbies, it also seems like they already have everything! What do you get for these people who have everything? One thing they all have in common is a love of outdoor pursuits . Most people who enjoy the outdoors naturally love watching the birds in their backyard. In fact, a recent survey found that more than a third of all Minnesota and Wisconsin residents take part in wildlife watching and bird feeding.
     With such wide appeal, bird watching and bird feeding continue to grow in popularity. Once only a casual winter past time, most people who enjoy watching birds now keep the feeders full all year. New feeder styles, state of the art squirrel resistant technology, and a better understanding of the needs of birds have encouraged more people to get started. Once started, it’s hard to quit. One feeder soon becomes four or five. Bird houses start popping up all over the yard and water features become a central focus of the overall landscape design.

     Here are a few great gift ideas for those that already have it all.
[1] A Room With A View. Window feeders are available in many styles to attract everything from Chickadees to Woodpeckers. Window mount nest boxes give an up close and personal view of the faimly life of birds! Price range $16- $36.
[2] Something Nutty! My all time favorite, peanut feeders! No wasted food, no mess to clean up, the nuts last a long time and the birds stay on the feeder longer. Perfect for Woodpeckers, Nuthatches and Chickadees. Price range $16-$35.
[3] Hummingbird Havens. The hummers won’t return until May but decorative hummingbird feeders are a hot gift! Look for works in copper, hand blown mexican glass, and elegant etched lantern feeders. These feeders balance function and beauty while attracting the flying jewels of the bird world. Price range $20-$50.
[4] Squirrel Resistant Feeders. A war is waging in backyards across the country. If you or someone you love has suffered the trauma of battling bushy tailed rodents you need to get help. Recent advancements in technology have led to new groundbreaking designs to thwart furry pests safely and humanely. Price range $65-$130.
[5] The Perfect Little Stocking Stuffer. Tweet Kabobs and Bird Springs are back! Designed to hold nesting material in spring, fruit in summer, and suet in fall and winter. Simple, fun and versatile these feeders are just what you needed to fit that under $10 gift exchange. Price range $5-$9 w/suet.
[6] A Gift for Nature. Make a contribution in the name the gift recipient. Be it local, national or international, there are all kinds of important wildlife and habitat conservation projects that need our support. Consider purchasing a Duck Stamp or membership in the Ruffed Grouse Society or Wild Turkey Federation. Hunting and fishing groups do fantastic work improving habitat for game species, but all the wildlife in the area reap the benefits! Gifts to the Humane Society help keep cats and dogs “off the street” where they are a serious threat to wildlife. They help find loving homes for domestic animals that are at risk, lost, or abandoned. By providing this service our pets are healthier and the birds at our feeders are safer.

     For the person who loves watching backyard birds, the holidays are a chance to give as well as receive. Here are three winter tips that will help the birds and increase your viewing pleasure!
[1] Deck the Halls! Make festive treats and decorate the trees with edible ornaments like popcorn garland, suet balls, and peanut butter pine cones. Bake birdy muffins or make easy Christmas cookie cutouts for the birds. These are fun projects to do with kids over the holidays. The birds love them. No matter what they look like they’re always a hit! The publishers of Birds & Blooms have collected a treasure trove of recipes, ideas and helpful hints in a book called 1029 Backyard Birding Secrets. You’ll love this book packed with projects and advice from Birds & Blooms readers around the country.
[2] Behold the Power of Water! Even though most birds won’t bathe when temperatures drop below freezing they still need to drink. Most lakes and rivers are frozen, or the water is too deep or fast to safely drink from. Offering a safe, reliable source of water all year long will increase the number of birds visiting your yard. Provide a heated bath this winter and you’ll be surprised at how many new birds you see. Heated baths are available in several styles. Deck mounted baths are popular and easy to maintain through the cold months. Other models include wall mount, pole mount, and traditional pedestal styles. You can even convert your summer bath by using a submersible heating unit.
[3] Give them Shelter from the Storm. A little extra cover can go a long way. Birds depend on the natural cavities in trees and on dense stands of evergreens to shelter them from severe winter elements. Wind, snow, sleet, and rain lower body temperature. Keeping warm and taking in enough calories are the primary focus of most birds throughout the winter months. Roosting boxes are designed to offer small birds like Chickadees a safe place to get out of the cold. Another kind gesture you can easily manage, build a temporary brush pile using branches, sticks and dry leaves from your yard. The larger and denser it is, the more protection from wind it will offer. Finally, save your Christmas tree! Place it near your feeding stations where birds can rest safely.

Kelly Larson
Northern Flights Wild Bird Store
Bemidji, Minnesota 218-444-3022