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Article: Attracting Birds in Winter

Created on: Monday, June 09, 2003

The garden in winter may be sleeping, awaiting the warmth of spring to reawaken it, but it needn't be a quiet and dreary place. The busy sounds of rustling branches, the bright flash of the cardinal, the noisy chatter of birds - all testify to the vibrancy and vitality of the garden. Watching the birds as they feed and sing can be another aspect of enjoying the garden that is especially rewarding in winter. You can plant trees and shrubs in your landscape which add color and interest in winter as well as providing food and shelter for the overwintering birds. Fruiting trees, such as crabapples, hawthorne and mountain ash, provide an abundance of food and lots of color. Chokeberry, with its bitter tasting fruit, can provide bright color into late winter when the birds' food supply begins to dwindle, and the hungry robins begin to reappear. Many shrubs can provide bird habitat. Viburnums attract birds with their bright red berry clusters while at the same time performing their ornamental function in the winter landscape. The cranberry cotoneaster, with its plump red berries and lattice-like branching structure, is another fine example of an ornamental shrub which offers winter food for the birds. Ornamental grasses provide food with their feathery seed heads. Roses, with their bright hips and protective thorns, provide both food and shelter, as do the thorny barberries. When planning your garden or contemplating adding to an already existing one, keep in mind our feathered friends, who, to some extent, depend on us for habitat, and at the same time enrich our enjoyment of life.

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