Winter Water Solution: Heated Birdbaths

House Finch_LaVeta-CO_LAH_2316_filteredI’m gazing out my frosted window at the birds in our backyard. In the four hours since sunrise, the thermometer has only climbed from 13 to 15 degrees. Tiny snowflakes waft down onto the deck and bird feeders. The predawn fog has frozen onto every twig and blade of grass, turning the landscape into a fairyland of hoar frost.

The birds—House Finches, Dark-eyed Juncos, a few pigeon—are devouring my black-oil sunflower seeds as fast as their little beaks can crack the shells. A flicker has staked out the suet feeder. (I miss the nuthatches and chickadees from our old house, surrounded by pines.) But as popular as the feeders are, the birds are also flocking to my heated birdbath.

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A Visit from a Covey

Scaled Quail_ChicoBasinRanch-CO_LAH_3016I have a new yard bird! Having only lived in this house since May, adding a new species to my yard list isn’t normally that big a deal. In fact, the previous entry (last week) was Eurasian Collared-dove. Big whoopee. But this new species got me so excited I went running around the house, texting all my birding friends. (Can you tell I haven’t been out birding in far too long?)

Yes, I glanced out at the feeder late one afternoon and spotted a small covey of Scaled Quail! In my yard! They were happily pecking through the shredded bark mulch looking for millet seeds that had fallen from the feeder overhead.

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Chicken Attraction

chicken_blkforestco_2200411_lah_2205r2-1

My therapist lives in a chicken coop. Yup. We have (currently) six hens. Whenever I need some reassurance, I head out to the shed where they live. I tell them all my problems. In fact, I can tell them anything; hens are experts at keeping secrets. When I’m finished complaining, they come around and bwaaaaak and braaap at me. Hens must make the most comforting noises in the animal kingdom! My hens always help me feel better, and they don’t charge $100 an hour.

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Surviving Winter: Basic Garden Design 2

When contemplating a garden design, I ask myself: What do I really want in my yard? What features are permanent, and what am I willing to change? How do I want to use my outdoor space? What feelings do I want to experience when I step out my door?

water-garden-dbg-lah-2711While we all want to gain maximum use from our yards, it’s very helpful to prioritize. Perhaps you entertain a lot, and your garden wish list includes a deck or patio, a fire pit, and a lawn for playing games. Or perhaps you are the introspective sort, and you want a garden bench under an arbor, a reflecting pool, and paths wandering through your plantings. My priorities include food and water for the birds, a secluded place from which to watch them, and a vegetable garden. Limiting yourself to three main features brings a sense of unity to your landscape. Continue reading “Surviving Winter: Basic Garden Design 2”