Bring Nature Inside Your PA Home With Winter Bird Watching
Winter in Eastern PA can be a real doozy. Cold temperatures, short days followed by windy nights, and frost-covered mornings make it feel like spring is a long time away. The last thing on your mind is getting back outside, taking care of your lawn, or spending time with nature. But as we wait for the ice to thaw and the snow to melt, we can enjoy the sights and sounds of nature right in the comforts of our own home by taking part in winter bird watching. Yes, it is true. Many birds fly south for the winter. But we do have feathered friends who spend all four seasons here. We are also visited by birds who breed north of us and spend their winters in PA.
In Pennsylvania, there are approximately 35 species that can be observed through the winter months. There are things you can do alone or as a family to help attract these beloved creatures to your backyard. In doing so, you will also help them survive the harsh elements. Below is a list of the more common bird species you might find stopping for a visit.
- Black-capped Chickadees
- Tufted Titmouse
- Northern Cardinal
- Downey Woodpecker
- Red-bellied Woodpecker
- House Finch
- American Goldfinch
- White-breasted Nuthatch
- American Crow
- Blue Jay
- American Tree Sparrow
- Dark-eyed Junco
- Mourning Dove
Want To Attract Birds to Your Eastern PA Property? Put Out Food!
So how do you go about attracting winter birds to your Eastern PA backyard? First, most birds are lured by food. Put up one or several birdfeeders offering a variety of different seeds. Use feeders that have covers to protect your seeds from snow and rain. Place feeders in areas hidden by trees and shrubs where birds are sheltered from severe winds and predatory birds.
When choosing the type of food to fill your feeders, try to pick foods high in fat and oil. This is because the typical protein sources such as insects and berries are scarce this time of year. Food that contains lots of fat and oils include:
- Black oil sunflower seeds. Sunflower seeds are eaten by over 40 species of birds, including chickadees, cardinals, blue jays, and sparrows.
- White millet seed
- A suet mix that includes both seeds and fruit
- Peanuts or peanut butter
- Thistle seed
You can even throw in a few pieces of fruit for an extra treat, such as grapes, citrus fruits, apples, and bananas.
Birds Need Fresh Water
In Eastern PA, many of our lakes, creeks, and stagnant water sources freeze in the winter. Having fresh water in your backyard will make it a haven for the birds in winter. Heaters or agitators can be used to prevent the water from freezing.
Help Protect Them From the Elements
If you’re cold, imagine what it must feel like to something the size of a bird. You can help them by placing birdhouses and roosting boxes on your property. Roosting boxes are like hotels for birds and offer several perches inside for them to congregate. Unlike birdhouses intended for building nests, a roosting box provides shelter from cold temperatures, predators, and extreme weather elements. Place roosting boxes in a sheltered area protected from the wind. Try to place it in a south-facing location that gets sunlight during the day.
Plant Native Trees and Shrubs
By planting specific trees and shrubs native to Eastern Pennsylvania, you can help create the appropriate environment for birds. There is a variety of vegetation that offers good sources of shelter and food to birds. But when looking for native plants, don’t buy them from a nursery unless it has the correct Latin name attached to them. Many trees and shrubs come in native and non-native types. Non-native plants do not support the variety and abundance of insects our birds need to survive. Some of the most popular native trees and shrubs include:
- Serviceberry Amelanchier
- Spicebush Lindera benzoin
- American Beautyberry Callicarpa americana
- Pin Cherry Prunus pennsylvanica
- Dogwood Cornus
- American Holly Ilex opaca
- Winterberry holly Ilex verticillata
- American beech Fagus grandifolia
- White Pine Pinus strobus
- American Cranberrybush Viburnum trilobum
- Juniper Juniperus virginiana
- Elderberry Sambucus Canadensis
- Blueberry Vaccinium corymbosum
Other Bird Watching Environments
If you are interested in further your winter bird watching outside of your home, there are plenty of places here in Eastern PA to watch winter birds. Take the kids, grab the binoculars and camera and make it a family outdoor experience. Brushy fields or shrubs and tall grasses are always a good starting point. Other bird watching environments include:
- Open water and streams
- Thickets of trees
- Brush piles
- Fields that contain wild berries
For All Your Lawn Care and Landscaping Needs, Call the Professionals at Showcase Lawn Works
Spring may feel a long way off but it’s never too early to look ahead when it comes to lawn care and landscaping. Schedule your upcoming spring lawn care with Showcase Lawn Works now. As a locally-owned business here in Eastern PA, we want to help you turn your landscape into what you’ve always imagined it could be, a showcase yard. To achieve this, we offer a lawn care program to help protect and maintain your lawn, a tree and shrub care program, and various landscaping services, including landscaping design. Check out all of our services by visiting our website, contacting us online, or giving us a call at 717-354-3226.
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