From early December on, seeds, berries, and insects become harder to find after the growing season. Some bird enthusiasts provide supplemental feeder food that draws them closer for observation. Sometimes turkeys are the clean-up crew.
While having coffee on the deck last summer, a motionless hummingbird perched on a plant container trellis for a moment. Of course, it also hovered near flowers, flew backward to disentangle its wings, and strafed our heads where we blocked the flower path on its morning nectar run. The flying agility of birds is admired and mimicked by aeronautical engineers.
Birds have roles in nature that benefit our outdoor spaces. Some backyard birds stay busy in the garden eating insects in various stages and feeding young. Some birds are pollinators that distribute pollen from plant to plant. Birds that eat berries may leave seeds that will grow in new locations. Birds and their music keep us attuned to nature and the cycles of the season.
Healthy birds grow in a healthy environment. We all appreciate seeing eagles nest and raise young in our region again along the Missouri River. Some gardeners add birdhouses to their gardens to see bird families grow or encourage their beneficial activity. Gardens may include food and protection plants, especially for bird habitats. National Audubon Society is an organization that gives guidance for plants useful to bird habitat. The goldfinch photograph by Brian Waddell comes from the National Audubon Society website at Audubon.org.