Today is the first day of winter, and between the gray sky and the chill in the air, it looks
like it could snow. The songbirds are very active outside my window at the feeder eating their favorite black oil sunflower seed. In the garden, Ilex verticillata (winterberry) is a high energy berry that the birds eat as an emergency winter food.
Ornamental grasses provide cover or shelter in winter for wildlife as well as a food source with seeds and insect larvae. Cut perennial grasses back at the end of the winter season. If you have some extra leaf litter in your garden, just blow it under your shrubs and the ground feeding songbirds will visit your yard to scratch around for insect larvae hiding underneath. Your garden should have these essential elements to attract birds: cover, food, water, and a place to raise their young.
Winter is a fun time to start feeding the birds and developing your eye for bird identification. For more information, check Cornell’s Backyard Feeder Count or a Christmas Bird Count happening in your area.
by Robyn Affron
Visitor Services Coordinator
Certified Professional Horticulturist