Bird Buffet

One in five Americans (48 million of us) are backyard bird-watchers, according to the American Bird Conservancy. Now that’s something to tweet about! What’s the best way to bring in the birds? Provide the food they love. Human handouts help sustain birds during winter months when natural sources are scarce. Here’s how to start catering to avian appetites this fall.

1 PICK A FEEDER Tray, hopper, tube, above, and suet feeders attract different types of birds. Choose one that appeals to your favorites. To attract the greatest array, select one of each.
2   FILL IT UP A birdseed blend that contains hulled sunflower seeds, white proso millet, and niger (Nyjer) appeals to most birds. A suet feeder will satisfy the rest.
3 HANG IT IN VIEW Place feeders a  foot or two from a window. Not only does it make good viewing, it’s safer for birds—if startled, a low-speed run-in with the glass won’t harm them.

4 KEEP IT CLEAN Wash feeders every week or two in hot, soapy water. (Moldy or decomposing seeds can make birds sick.) Dry thoroughly before refilling with fresh seed.

Backyard Garland

After dessert, share your holiday bounty with some outdoor friends. Using a needle and thread, string popcorn and dried fruit to hang as an edible garland in the backyard. Then sit back and watch the feasting. The birds, squirrels, and other creatures soon will be as stuffed as you. Extra time? Create a few more garlands for indoors using craft materials, and get a jump start on decorating.

Squirrel Snacks

If you have hungry squirrels in your area this time of year, you can treat them to a nourishing cold winter snack. First, help your child use a butter knife to coat the outside of a dried corn (available to gardening and pet supply stores) with peanut butter then roll it into bird seed until it is well coated. Set the treat outside attached to a log or to a tree the squirrels are seen in. Then watch the little guys go crazy once they have discovered their new found treasure.