Written by Kelsey Low
For most humans, winter’s arrival means holiday cheer, hot drinks, and warm coats. It’s easy to forget that winter is one of the toughest times for animals because of the cold and lack of food. This winter, remember your animal neighbors and do your part to spread a little joy during the dark, chilly months.
Birds need to eat a lot to keep warm when the temperature drops. When nighttime temperatures fall into the 30’s, you can help birds by making feeders with peanut butter, seeds, and dried fruits.
- Peanut butter pinecone: smear natural peanut butter (with as little sugar and salt as possible) all over a pinecone, then roll it in a bowl of bird seed. Hang your pinecone from a branch near bushes or other cover so birds can hide until it’s safe to come out and eat.
- Fruit garlands: attach sturdy thread to a thick needle and run it through unsweetened dried fruits like raisins, blueberries, cherries, banana and apple chips, and orange slices. You can also add fresh cranberries, plain popped popcorn, and unsweetened Cheerios. Hang the garlands on tree branches near cover. Keep an eye on the garlands; when most of the food is gone, take them down so birds don’t get tangled in the string.
Animals need shelter from winter’s chill, and you can help by providing cover for them to hide in. You can put up bird houses, bat houses, and toad abodes, but it’s even easier to let your yard do the work for you.
- Leave a small brush pile with sticks and other yard trimmings for small animals to hide in.
- Avoid raking up fallen leaves in one corner of your yard to provide shelter for frogs, box turtles, bumblebees, and caterpillars.
- A small pile of rocks makes a great home for toads, lizards, and snakes.
- Leave some plants (especially grasses) untrimmed to provide cover and food for birds and rabbits throughout the winter.