BRAINERD, Minn. – Songbirds are colorful attractions during any season. But during the holidays, when the sky is often gray and snow or frost adorns tree limbs, it can be especially fun to watch winter birds.
Although the majority of songbirds leave Minnesota during winter, some species actually journey from Canada into Minnesota. Yep, the coldest state in the nation is a winter stopover for several bird species, including flamboyant birds such as pine grosbeaks, Bohemian waxwings and crossbills. They find our winter weather to their liking, especially when their favorite foods, including spruce cones and such fruits as crabapples and mountain ash, are available.
A full-time Minnesota resident is the northern cardinal. How about those brilliant red males with plumage so radiant they at times seem unreal? Even some robins spend the winter in Minnesota, usually feasting on the fruit of crabapple trees.
Other birds are year-round residents, too. Perhaps the most popular is the diminutive but ever active black-capped chickadee. Even on stormy winter days, chickadees are out and about. They can be found readily in almost every habitat type and are easily attracted to bird feeders.
Blue jays also are colorful winter residents. The gaudy blue and white birds are loathed by some because of their overriding attitude around bird feeders, but I find them extraordinarily attractive and can’t imagine a winter without them.
Finding winter birds is usually not difficult if you know where to look.
Check out city parks, cemeteries and any place where ornamental fruit trees and shrubs have been planted. Most nature centers feature bird feeders as well as landscaping meant to attract birds.
To attract birds to my yard, over the years I have planted various fruit-bearing trees and shrubs such as mountain ash, crabapples and highbush cranberries and seed-bearing trees such as spruce and tamarack. I also maintain six bird feeders and a heated bird bath.
To add good cheer to your holidays, observe our hardy and vibrant winter feathered friends.