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.
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.