As our gardens lay under snowy blankets, much life still exists above in the trees. Deciduous trees have lost their leaves, but the rich colors of evergreens use this time to show off and stand stark against gray winter backdrops.
December is the perfect time to provide for, protect and enjoy Oklahoma’s winter, wild birds. Birdwatching isn’t just for the very old or the very young. Much research has gone into determining the benefits of birdwatching and the results are noteworthy.
Being connected to nature improves your psychological well-being by assisting with regulating your emotions and your memory functions. It reduces depression and lowers stress levels. More studies are being conducted, but it appears that spending more time in nature, and less time on electronic devices, can increase ones problem-solving skills and improve creative abilities and mental alertness.
Birdwatching is inspiring and gives all who take time to observe an appreciation for God and His creation. It’s amazing how these tiny creatures are so determined and resilient. Watching colorful, winter birds repeatedly return to a feeder allows you to step back from our all-about-me society and appreciate something else. These tiny creatures find a way through frigid temperatures, ice and snow to forage for food and even to appear grateful and happy!
Birdwatching allows people to take a break from being instantly gratified. This can be hard for those who identify with the microwave culture, but setting up a bird feeding station builds anticipation and creates patience.
Many think that attracting birds to your yard is bad if you have gardens, but quite the opposite is true. Birds play a vital role in a garden’s ecosystem. The presence of birds is needed to control many unwanted pests. Sparrows, finches and other birds eat weed seeds and help to eliminate unwanted weeds and plants, and some birds even help with pollination.
So, you may be thinking, “What can I do to attract more birds to my yard?” Taking little steps to improve your environment can help. Begin by providing a desirable habit or improving your existing one. This will probably require you to do more than just adding a couple of feeders. Creating a bird-friendly landscape that includes seed and berry producing native plants is a great start. Try planting in layers so that you consider everything from the ground to the top of the canopy.
As you select your plants, here are a few additional things to consider:
- Annual vs. Perennial
- Deciduous vs. Evergreen
- Flowering vs. Non-flowering
- Fruit bearing vs. Non-fruit bearing
- In what season does this plant flower or bear fruit
Provide a source of fresh water. While food most certainly attracts birds, water is critical to their survival and can be more difficult for them to find during the winter months. If you can create a dependable source of clean water you will most definitely have winter birds and perhaps even other wildlife. In Oklahoma, where we experience regular freezing temperatures, using a heated bird bath is a great option. They are relatively inexpensive to purchase and to operate.
The year 2020 has been difficult, and many people are worried and scared about what the future holds. Dear friend, did you know that we can take something as simple as birdwatching and use it to focus our attention on God? All of creation points to God and gives Him praise.
“But just ask the animals and have them teach you; And the birds of the sky and have them tell you. Or speak to the earth and have it teach you; And have the fish of the sea tell you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this, in whose hand is the life of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind?”(Job 12:7-10).
“Look at the birds of the sky, that they do not sow, nor reap, nor gather crops into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more important than they? And which of you by worrying can add a single day to his life’s span?” (Matt. 6:26-27).
God loves you, and He has everything under control. You can see that reminder right outside of your window.