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Examiner
  • Lynn Youngblood: Birds bring much to our lives

  • This January brought strange weather patterns even for the Midwest. Last week, temperatures were as high as 78 degrees and within 24 hours had dropped to 16 degrees. No wonder plants, trees and wildlife may have a hard time surviving some winters.

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  •  This January brought strange weather patterns even for the Midwest. Last week, temperatures were as high as 78 degrees and within 24 hours had dropped to 16 degrees. No wonder plants, trees and wildlife may have a hard time surviving some winters.
    One of my favorite things to do to pass the winter doldrums is to watch the beautiful songbirds gathered outside on my feeders. A wide range of species gathers at the buffet, from downy, red-bellied, and the more rare red-headed and hairy woodpeckers, to cardinals, titmice, nuthatches, wrens, finches, and many more. The numbers that gather and their colorful feathers are a photographer’s dream. Who knew something as simple as spreading bird seed could lower your blood pressure and heart rate, calm your spirit and soothe your soul!
    February is National Bird Feeding Month. At this point in the season, most wild seeds have been depleted, making survival very challenging. During dry years, like we experienced this year, it can be tough for our feathered friends to find water.
    Congressman John Porter, R-Ill. who got National Bird Feeding Month enacted, understood the benefits of backyard birdfeeding. His resolution says, “Young children are naturally drawn to the activities involved in feeding wild birds, which can serve as excellent educational tools. Children can identify different species of birds with a field guide and can learn about the birds’ feeding and living habits. These observations can then provide excellent research opportunities for school projects and reports.”
    I can see birdfeeding being incorporated into elementary science and social studies curricula, tying the two together and comparing and contrasting behaviors of birds with people. (You would be surprised. They may not be as different as you might suspect.)
    Frigid weather and snow make it an even more important time to feed the birds. Seeds that may have been available on the ground are covered, and the low temperatures mean an animal needs more energy to stay warm. A heated water source will draw wild birds and provide a necessary basic need for them. At the very least, providing fresh water at the same time each day will habitualize the birds to your routine. They will come at that time of day to get the water.
    Two plastic take-out trays work well for this; while one is outside for the day providing water, the other is inside thawing from the day before (just keep rotating them).
    Actually, you don’t have to even invest in a feeder. You can simply throw seed on the ground. Of course, throwing seed on the ground and putting it in a feeder will attract different types of birds – odd, huh.
    Get more information about the National Bird-Feeding Society at www.birdfeeding.org.
    Reach Lynn Youngblood at TheGreenSpace@sbcglobal.net.
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