We may stay nice and cozy in our heated houses stocked with store-bought food, but our furry friends have a harder time finding food and shelter in winter. Here are a few simple things you can do to help them out.
Plant native trees and bushes in your yard that offer their own fruits (berries, seeds, acorns). Leave your Jack-o-Lantern out after Halloween, as we do, and watch squirrels dig into it. Offer feed such as black-oil sunflower seed, cardinal mixes or peanuts that appeals to a wide variety of winter birds.
Stop the Yard Work
Don’t trim your dead plants and flowers until spring because many animals use the branches, twigs and seedheads for food or protection in winter. Leave flowerpots turned upside down to provide a safe spot for toads and newts. Some plants that wildlife are particularly fond of include: sedums, black-eyed Susans, sunflowers, zinnias, marigolds and ferns.
Give Second Life to Your Christmas Tree
Assuming you’ve bought a real one, you can leave it in a secluded area of your yard after the holidays. Wildlife will take shelter in its branches.
Warm Up the Water
A birdbath isn’t much use frozen over in the dead of winter. And fresh water is often hard for animals to find. Consider the location of your water sources—southern spots are best—and add a heating element to your birdbath.
Build a Brush Pile
Whether it’s a a pile of branches and twigs, a compost area or stacked firewood, such a pile creates a perfect shelter for animals like chipmunks, rabbits and ground-nesting birds.