Tis the season to be giving. Birds will appreciate getting food and water throughout the winter season. For those of us that like to watch birds, they will give us hours of entertainment. Let’s keep up the giving.

Shelter, water and food are the requirements for birds. Permanent landscaping can provide most shelter. The Christmas tree after the holidays can become temporary shelter when placed in the landscape. It and other plants provide protection from the wind and predators.

The toughest requirement for birds to find during the winter is useable water. Birds literally flock to available water. Providing fresh water and using a heater will draw the feathered friends to your viewing location.

Food for birds can come from a variety of sources. Desirable plants strategically placed are used to bring birds into viewing. The seeds of black-eyed Susan and purple coneflower provides food for several birds that visit the landscape. Some other perennials that birds may visit are aster, mums, Coreopsis, and sedums.

Annual flowers can provide food. Dead marigold and zinnia flowers left in the garden is a source of seeds. Cosmos, bachelor button, calendula and sunflowers are more good annuals for birds.

I supplement my food supply with feeders. My hanging feeders are on a support near the bur oak tree to provide an easy perch. A suet feeder balances the support. These two different feeders give me a good balance of available food for various birds.

When it comes to bird feed, it’s hard to beat sunflowers. The most desired is the solid black oil-seed. Black-striped and gray-striped rank 2 and 3 respectively. These are inexpensive, packed with protein and relished by the more desirable songbirds.

There are ground feeding birds. I use a tray for a container to hold the bird feed that is mostly grain.

It is comforting to know that my feeding is not necessary for bird survival. Feeding is a hobby that allows me to enjoy birds close up.

You can find out more information on this and other horticulture topics by going to the K-State Research and Extension website at www.ksre.ksu.edu.

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