A lot of folks believe that all birds fly south for the winter. Wrong! You might be quite surprised to discover how many birds live in Western Massachusetts all year round. Many areas of the country are visited by birds in the winter that have flown in from yet another destination, even further north. Like every other living creature, birds require water, food, and shelter to survive. No matter if you live in a rural setting or a city subdivision, there is a great deal you can do to help birds survive the ice and snow while encouraging them to linger around your yard.
Clean Your Bird Houses In the fall, give your birdhouses a through cleaning and then leave them up through the winter so that birds can find shelter from winter winds. When cleaning, remove all debris and old nesting materials. To prevent disease and to make them clean and inviting, after emptying the nest, rinse, wipe down or spray with a solution of a half cup of bleach to a quart of water.
Leave Leaves And Grasses On The Floor Of The Garden Beds Leaves and grass will decompose providing organic matter for the garden while providing a home for worms and insects that provide food for migrating birds. The tiny insects, larva, and eggs the birds find in the leaves and grass will help to sustain them during the winter.
Add Native Plants With Edible Fruit To The Landscape Attract birds to your backyard by providing native plants with edible nuts, fruits, berries, or seeds as well as perennial plants and herbs that produce seed heads, providing food which birds can consume throughout the winter. Mulberries, Serviceberry, Crabapples, Chokecherries, and Virginia Creeper are but a few of the many different plants that provide winter food for the birds. If in doubt when selecting native plants for your yard, contact your local county extension agent for a list of plants that will flourish in your yard.
Provide Dense Growth Foliage Birds seek a sheltered spot out of the wind in the protective boughs of evergreen shrubs and trees that provide dense foliage. Tree sparrows, chickadees, and Juncos often seek shelter on the ground under the sheltering boughs. Migrating flocks of birds especially appreciate a dense cluster of evergreens.
Place Bird Feeders In Your Yard Refill bird feeders daily, making sure seed is fresh and dry. Talk to the folks at your local home and garden supply to select the types of feeders best suited to your area. Be sure to locate feeders where they are protected from feral cats and other predators.
Provide Water Birds need lots of water, and it is often difficult for them to find a place to drink when puddles and ponds are frozen solid. A heater bird bath will provide a source of drinking water and attract birds to your home environment.
For more information on birds in Massachusetts: http://www.massaudubon.org/learn/nature-wildlife/birds/fall-winter-birds