Feeding The Birds

By Teo Spengler | January 8, 2022
Image by Peter Llewellyn
by Teo Spengler
January 8, 2022

As I watch the birds line up along the tree branches to wait for a turn at the new feeder, I feel a strong desire to do more. Being blocked from coming back to France during the pandemic, I wasn’t here to offer them food over the winter.

The sight of hungry birds has inspired me to commit to installing more bird-friendly shrubs in 2022. This is my number one garden project: adding a berry patch and bird-friendly shrubs to the landscape.

Garden Project 2022

I am a great believer in New Year’s resolutions and, in fact, resolutions and goal lists of all kinds. I find that without an established and current list of things I want to do, life just sort of slides by.

As a gardener and a nature lover, I always include some garden project on my lists. This year, the goal is feeding the birds better by planting shrubs, a source of food that will sustain them whether I happen to be in France or not. 

Feeding the Birds

I love having a bird feeding area. I built my bird feeder from several large, wooden spools. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I see now that I made something close to the bird feeder my dad built in Alaska when I was a child: two spools, one on top of the other, with a seed dispenser in the shape of a little house on the very top.

This feeder is outside the living room window, and I can see it when I am working at my desk. And I’ve seen everything from sparrows to robins and jays crowd in to get the seeds and suet. But this year, I will make feeding the birds less of a personal amusement and more of a reliable source of sustenance.

Bird-Friendly Shrubs

At first, I thought I would describe my goal as putting in a berry patch. And I have every intention of doing that. I have selected a sunny area with well-draining soil to install a variety of berries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries. 

But these types of berries do not often hang on the shrubs into January. I decided to expand my garden project to include bird-friendly shrubs and trees. I will plant a hedge around the area of pyracantha and cotoneaster, as well. I will add a few holly trees, since their berries – though slightly toxic to humans – are devoured by the blackbirds in winter. 

Though I cannot expect that my project will immediately provide enough to feed all of the birds here in winter, it will establish over time. In a few years, the birds around my little house will be sure to have plenty all winter long.

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