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Help for winter birds

• Stock feeders with high-energy foods like suet and peanuts.

• Use a heater to keep a birdbath ice-free, and clean it out regularly.

• Build a brush pile for shelter out of tree and shrub prunings.

• Leave plant stalks standing to catch blowing snow to provide shelter.

• Rake some leaves to your yard’s borders so ground feeders can forage.

DIY ‘suet’ cakes

Mix your own high-energy treats:

1 cup rendered suet, butter, lard or vegetable shortening

1 cup chunky peanut butter

3 cups ground cornmeal

½ cup flour

Melt the first two ingredients together, then mix in the cornmeal and flour. At this point you could add some chopped, unsalted nuts, and/or chopped dried fruit and/or birdseed. Pour into a pan or ice cube trays, refrigerate, then break into smaller pieces and freeze, offering portions in a suet feeder or platform tray.

Winter feast

For downy woodpeckers that live near fields of Canada goldenrod, December is feast time: The small woodpeckers prize the fly larvae that create those lumpy galls on goldenrod stalks, pecking a hole and pulling out the juicy treat.

Val Cunningham