An Invitation to Winter Birds

WHAT’S THE LATEST WORD ON NUTHATCH STREET? “Kevin’s got a rose garden…pass it on.” Although buried in more than a foot of snow just now, my rose garden has become the coldest hot spot for birds, and not only for white-breasted nuthatches, but blue jays, red cardinals, yellow finches, dark-eyed juncos and blue birds, too. What’s the great draw? Actually, I think there are several aspects of this garden that birds find inviting:

Let’s start with the tall arborvitae hedge, planted as a backdrop for the rose garden. It’s a magnet for birds, who find the lacy-leaved branches shelter from storms in winter, and ideal nesting quarters in spring.

Then there is the hedge of Taxus hicksii, planted to give bold definition to the garden’s figure-8 shape. Birds revel in the bright red berries of this “upright yew”; I frequently spy song sparrows and juncos frolicking in its 4-foot growth. The bird pictured above, perched on a yew bough, and photographed through my office window, has been identified by reader Patty as the Eastern Bluebird.

Also inviting are the the 45 dormant roses and 2 weeping crab-apple trees. The roses produce colorful hips (above), and the crab-apples trees produce, well, crabapples. Both fruits are high in Vitamin C.

Because I’m a gracious host, I supplement my visitors’ diet with seeds. These are contained in rather unattractive plastic feeders suspended outside my office window. During daylight hours, the feeders are frequented by woodpeckers, nuthatches and finches. If only they would stand and pose, I could photograph them for you.

I should mention that all birds require water. On above-freezing days they drink and bathe contentedly in a pair of 3-tiered fountains. When freezing weather arrives, I suspect they get moisture from the snow attached to the berries they eat.

If, from the comfort of your living room, you’d like to witness the winter-antics of birds, consider incorporating into your garden some of the features I’ve described above. Briefly, these are tall evergreens for shelter; Taxus hicksii, crabapple trees and rosebushes for fruit (Viburnum and Pyracantha are two other good sources of fruit); a source of water, and last but by no means least, a variety of seeds, kept dry in feeders.

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Related Posts:
From Parking Lot to Rose Garden
Evergreens for Privacy Screens
Boxwood Beauty the Easy Way
Rose Favorites for 2010
Plant Thuja ‘Green Giant’ for Instant Privacy


  1. Eastern Bluebird?

  2. Patty – You're absolutely right. I'll correct this post and give you a hat-tip.

  3. Kevin, great advice. And your rose garden looks amazing in the snow!

  4. Carol May La Mountain says:

    Thank you for your time and attention to all the valuable information and detail to your site I have had a glorious day visiting…..I began at 7:30 a.m., and OMG it’s 3:15 p.m. I haven’t felt this good in YEARS.
    I also placed my order with Johnny’s today.

  5. Carol May La Mountain – I’m blushing. Thank you for you kind, kind comment.

  6. Kevin, I really enjoy your newsletters and website. have been getting warning from Microsoft software that there is something wrong on your website on the links from your newsletters. I just thought you might want to check it out.

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