Being homeless is not restricted to humans. Food, shelter and water are as critical for wild birds as they are for people. For birds even a used Christmas tree can provide a home.
Experts at the Audubon Society say a helping hand from people is the difference between life and death during a cold snap or snow storm. It's then that birds need a quick food source and a place to escape the elements. An Audubon Society survey shows that Wisconsin chickadees eating from feeders had a 69 percent survival rate for the winter. For chickadees that relied solely on Mother Nature the rate was 37 percent.
Roosting boxes are the best man-made winter housing. A typical box is about two feet tall and nine inches wide. It has a door for cleaning and wooden perches for roosting.
Birds also welcome a small brush pile for shelter and protection from predators. Put it near a bird feeder. It's even better if you can stand your Christmas tree in the brush pile with the help of a stake driven into the ground.
You'll enjoy more wild birds if you stock your feeder with sunflower seeds, their favorite food. If your feeder runs out, don't worry, birds will find other food. But always have feed available when the ground is covered with snow or ice.
Is a holiday trip on your agenda? When you are invited to stay with family or friends, here are some things to consider to be welcomed house-guests:
1. Look hard at your family before you decide to stay. Forget it if the hosts are house-proud, and you have marauding kids. Stay at a hotel, or stay home. 2. Even with grandparents, rehearse behavior with children. Tell the children they need to keep the noise level down, especially during dinner. If a relative is cranky, let the kids know grandpa is having a bad day, and it's not their fault. 3. Check the house to ensure that medications and cleaning supplies are out of kids' reach. 4. See that knickknacks and guns are put away. 5. Help with the housework. Offer to polish silver. 6. Entertain yourselves rather than expecting hosts to arrange everything. 7. And have escape hatches. Give all a break by saying up front that you will be visiting the museum.
8. Show your appreciation by getting a baby-sitter and taking the adults out for dinner. 9. Go home soon, especially if there are make-shift sleeping arrangements. 10. Be prepared to reciprocate when your hosts want to visit you.
Have you felt the kiss of a snowflake this year? What do you do when it snows... go sledding, make a snowman, have a snowball battle? All of these are fun things to do while it's snowing or after the snow has settled. Afterall,
Snowflakes are kisses from heaven!
A Poem for the Holidays
I made myself a snowball,
as perfect as can be.
I thought I'd keep it as a pet,
and let it sleep with me.
I made it some pajamas,
and a pillow for its head.
Then... last night it ran away,
but first it wet the bed!!