Don't be too tidy!
Don’t rake everything or remove all of your garden debris in fall. Leave some of your perennials and shrubs intact at the end of the growing season. Dried leaves, stems and seeds always look interesting with a coating of frost or snow. And, birds will appreciate the tall stems, tasty seeds and berries throughout winter. Ground-feeding birds such as cardinals will also look for high protein insects under leaf litter. Dried seeds from annuals, perennials and grasses will become a rich buffet for goldfinches, cardinals, nuthatches, chickadees and many other backyard birds. Keep your bird feeders full to encourage your favorite birds to stick around for food and shelter. Especially this year, bird watching can be a wonderful family activity as we will all be sticking closer to home.
10 Great Plants to Keep Backyard Birds Fed and/or Sheltered in Winter.
1. Holly or Winterberry: Holly’s glossy, evergreen foliage and red berries always look beautiful in a winter landscapes. Native Winterberry sports foliage that turns yellow and drops in fall to expose red berries on dark gray branches all winter… or until the birds get to them. Robins love them!
2. Purple Coneflower: Daisy-like petal-led flowers in all sorts of rainbow colors are attractive to Monarchs and Swallowtail butterflies. The seed heads dry in fall and attract goldfinches and others in winter. It is sweet sight to watch a tiny Goldfinch delicately take the seeds from a dried coneflower.
3. American Cranberry Bush (Viburnum trilobum): This is a tall viburnum with red berries. Usually the berries won’t last past autumn because once the leaves fall and berries are exposed, woodpeckers and bluebirds will consume them without worrying about leaving something for tomorrow’s meal.
4. Liatris (Gayfeather): Vertical spikes of purple flowers are a nectar supply for butterflies in summer and the fluffy, dried seeds become food for finches in fall and winter.
5. Monarda (Bee balm): The Monarda flower produces a fruit called a "nutlet." In winter, sparrows readily eat the nutlets, and occasionally goldfinches enjoy this feast. So, don't deadhead your Monarda!
6. Rudbeckia: Plant many of the varieties of this cheerful, yellow-gold flower that bloom in mid- to late-summer and into fall. These are tough, hardy plants that won't mind the in snow or wet soil. Birds such as American goldfinches, chickadees, cardinals, nuthatches and sparrows will enjoy the rudbeckia seeds found in the dark cone.
7. Asters: Aster flowers are especially welcome in late summer and fall in rich shades of purples and pinks. Many asters are native plants that attract many pollinators, as well as, many types of birds: cardinals, chickadees, goldfinches, indigo buntings, nuthatches and sparrows.
8. Evergreens (Yews, Spruce, Juniper, Pine, Arbovitae): These evergreen shrubs provide dense foliage (needles) for sheltering birds and also protection from the cold, winter winds.
9. Grasses (Little Bluestem, Oat Grass, Switchgrass): Besides grasses’ feathery seed stalks providing texture in your landscape, they also are food for birds and shelter for smaller animals.
10. Leaf piles: Even though it might look a bit messy to some people, it’s best for the birds not to remove all of those fallen leaves. Rake them along the perennial border for hibernating bumblebees, butterflies, caterpillars and insect eggs. These insects will also become a welcome snack for foraging birds.
9. Grasses (Little Bluestem, Oat Grass, Switchgrass): Besides their feathery seed stalks providing texture in your landscape, the seed for birds and the dried foliage becomes shelter for smaller animals.
10. Leaf piles: Even though it might look a bit messy to some people, it’s best for the birds not to remove all of those fall leaves. Rake them along the perennial border for hibernating bumblebees, butterflies, caterpillars and insect eggs and a welcome snack for foraging birds.
To supplement the winter songbird's diet, check out our supply of birdseed and suet in Pasquesi's Pet & Wild Bird Dept. Or, order online and use our Warehouse Pickup or Delivery service.