When I sat down to write about fall/winter care for our birds in the backyard –with special attention to not feeding the squirrels too – little did I know that one would actually become a guest in my home! My son, Kyle, has come home with stray dogs for years. When I received a call from him with a new rescued pet, the last thing I thought was it would be a baby squirrel. Aptly named “Squirrel!” this little one instantly became my “grand-squirrel” and I couldn’t have been more in love!
Until Kyle could arrange for Squirrel! to go to an animal sanctuary, he fed him formula, kept him warm and clean, and introduced him to apples and nuts. This little guy had quite the personality too. We found out that Squirrel! preferred pecans, or rather, would only eat pecans. When we would hand him any nut other than a pecan, he would sniff it and throw it back in disgust. Seems our little squirrel friend was turning into the “Fresh Squirrel of Bel-Air.” Well, Squirrel! did have quite the “rodent life” for the few days at our house complete with maid, nanny and private chef services (aka Kyle.)
Now that our little visitor has taken up residence at the animal sanctuary, let me get back to our feathered friends. We know it is more challenging for birds to find water and food during this time. Here are a few easy suggestions to keep our winged-friends plump and happy:
- Tube Feeders with perches can be used for both small and large birds.
- Hopper Feeders are convenient because as you can clearly see when a birdfeed refill is needed.
- Birdbaths should be placed in an open space. This prevents feline- predators from hiding and pouncing on our friends. You can add a heater to keep it more “bath” than “rink” during our coldest days.
- Natural Birdseed is abundant! Sit back and enjoy your Pine, Birch, Maple and Oak trees as they supply cones and seeds that many birds love.
- You can’t go wrong with sunflower seeds and suet to keep a variety of birds happy – even better – a wild bird mix will cover all of the bases.
Ok, I have to admit, I found a new appreciation of furry little squirrels (oh Squirrel!, I do miss you...) So I have added some things to my backyard to feed these guys too. There are feeders just for squirrels – the one I have actually makes them work for the nuts and seeds – which keeps the forager in them really happy. The key to having any squirrel feeding station is to have it far removed from your birdfeeders. Be sure to keep birds and squirrels fed, but apart so there are no backyard food-fights!