Let the children help you choose a bird feeder for the backyard, or help you build a simple wooden feeder from a kit.
A fun outing could include taking the youngsters to a store that specializes in bird feeders and different types of seed. There’s everything from the most basic tube feeder to deluxe models that promise to thwart rambunctious squirrels.
Like a gourmet coffee house, these specialty shops offer different blends to entice a range of birds to your feeder. Encourage the kids to read the labels to see what sort of bird prefers a particular type of seed. Wrought iron wreaths to hold peanuts, favoured by larger birds such as blue jays, are a fun option.
Once you’ve decided on a feeder, it’s time to choose a spot for the feeder in the yard. I like to position my feeders so that they can be seen from the house and are handy to fill once the snow arrives. Position the feeder so that there is some shelter, a tree or large shrub nearby will do the trick.
I found an economical bird-bath warmer (to keep the water from freezing) to try this year. In the past, I would bring out a kettle of hot water to defrost the birdbath, the electric bird bath warmer will be much more convenient. A reliable source of fresh water helps to attract more birds to your property.
Invest in a book to help identify the birds that visit your feeder, look for a book with local references, detailed information and accurate colour pictures. Alternately, there are several online sites that help identify backyard birds. Just google bird identification southern Ontario for a list of sites. Encourage the youngsters to keep a journal of the birds they see at the feeder.
When our grandchildren visit, I ask them to help me fill the bird feeders. The birds respond by flying in for a quick snack. Sometimes the children leave little trails of sunflower seeds on the railing of the deck and then watch as sparrows follow the seed trail, unless the squirrel is the first to find the seed. We often offer peanuts — or whichever nuts I can find in the pantry — to the squirrel, in the hopes of keeping him out of the bird feeder.