Sunday, December 7, 2008


Crystal Lake today had two opportunities to enjoy holiday programs featuring Countryside staff members. This afternoon I had the pleasure of seeing Laura Fergus, from the greenhouse department, and her husband Rick sing at the First Congregational Church Christmas program. The concert features several choirs and a bell choir. What a fabulous performance and we all had a great time at the end singing a medley of Christmas songs. Tonight, Jim the driver, will be playing the tuba in the Crystal Lake Concert Band’s winter concert. If you didn’t get a chance to hear the band tonight, they are frequent performers during the Tuesday night concerts at the band shell in the summer.

With the first real snowfall this week, I got to thinking about the birds. The snow has covered up any seeds or other food sources so it is incumbent upon us to help provide food sources, especially as development takes away from the natural resources. A lot of birds, of course, do migrate to warmer climes with more available food sources, but the cardinals, juncos, and the finches, to name a few, stick around (I don’t know why, even my neighbor has finally left for Florida for the winter) and so we should put out not only food, but water also.
I have several friends, mostly from my garden club, who also feed the birds during the winter and they have two different philosophies about what type of food to put out. My one friend, (you know who you are) buys the cheapest bird food she can find feeling that whatever she puts out is better than nothing. I personally like to attract a wide variety of birds, so I put out several different kinds of bird food in different types of feeders. And I feel that if the birds won’t eat what you put out, why bother.

Selecting Bird Seed --It is pretty easy to tell a high quality bird seed, just look at the label. Just like at the grocery store, the ingredients are listed in descending order by percentage. Also listed on the label will be the guaranteed analysis, by percentage, of protein, fat, fiber and moisture. In order to compare one mix from another, compare the ingredients and the analysis. It also helps to know what type of birds you want to attract. If you want to attract finches, which like nyjer thistle and your mix doesn’t list it, then you won’t attract many finches.

Most birds that stay around through the winter prefer foods that have sunflower seeds, safflower, cracked corn, millet, thistle and fruit. Suet is another popular food this time of year. Just as important is to also have a source for water. Just like all animals, birds need water, too. Using a heated bird bath is one way to provide a water source this time of year.
Birding is the second most popular hobby in America. It can be a very rewarding experience to put out feeders, plant bird friendly plants, and make a backyard habitat for birds. If you want more information about birding as a hobby here are several links to websites for more information.

The Prince Corporation
Cornell Ornithological Lab

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