The Gift of Nature

     Looking out my window last weekend I had much to be thankful for. My first gift had arrived! The snow had transformed my backyard into an enchanted winter wonderland. A postcard of splendid white punctuated with the elegant stretch of ebony branches glistening in ice. It is only after nature puts on her winter robes that I begin to think about the holidays. The first snows of winter inspire my baking muse. Rum balls and cookies, tea breads and danish. I love how a home smells of cardamom and clove on a cold brisk day! Soon it will be time to add the scent of fresh pine to the mix. A trip to the tree farm, a foray to the attic, and peaceful evening of stringing lights on a tree that looked so much smaller in the field! No matter that it is a bit to large, it is a joy to have this piece of nature in my home during the darkest, coldest part of the year.
     The second gift of the season arrived on small gray wings amidst the bustle of Chickadees and House Finches. A pair of Tufted-titmice have been visiting my feeders for the past three weeks. They seem most fond of sunflower seeds. They also spend a good deal of time trading places at the peanut feeders with the Nuthatches. This inquisitive pair never seem to be far from one another. When I invade the backyard to fill the feeders they both make sure I get a good scolding! I am hoping these perky visitors will stay all winter.
     The aggressive nature of the Cardinal slipped away with the first hard frost. Only in winter can one look out to find a half dozen or more of these stunning red birds peacefully sharing the offerings at a feeder. Males may jealously guard their mates year round, but the instinct to drive away competitors takes a back seat to finding food in winter. It’s a short reprieve. By mid March the crimson males will again be courting the ladies. As the days get longer they become more aggressive. They defend breeding territories by singing and are more attentive to their hens. Until that time I will enjoy the view from my window, a gift of five male and three female Cardinals foraging on a blanket of white snow.
     As the holidays draw near, remember the gift of nature. For those who have never watched or fed birds before, a feeder can open up a whole new world of curiosity and entertainment. For those who have been enjoying birds for years, a new feeder, a good bird book or even a bag of premium seed is always appreciated. The gift of nature is a joy in all seasons, the perfect gift for the folks on your list who already have everything! Here are a few ideas for some great holiday giving.
Best Holiday Wishes!...
Kelly Larson-The Wild Bird Lady

1. Window Feeders. Available in many styles to attract everything from Chickadees to Woodpeckers. Get up close and personal! Price range $15- $35.
2. Peanut Feeders. My all time favorite feeder! 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 $15-$35.
3. Hummingbird Havens. The hummers won’t return until May but decorative hummingbird feeders are a hot gift this season! 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 and 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.

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