The Red-winged blackbirds are already back. The male goldfinches are gaining their bright yellow feathers and soon monarch butterflies will make their first appearance.
Once we get past the dreariness of March, spring can be a pretty great time in Michigan. So, what can you do to help these little creatures out? There are several things:
- If you have bird nest boxes, get them out as soon as you can, after cleaning them out from last year. Some birds are already making nests, so if you see a bird next box being used, don’t disturb them.
- Keep your bird feeder full. If birds are just arriving they’re very hungry so it’s good to have high fat content seed and suet available for them to recharge. The seed is for adults, not babies. 95% of the birds in North America feed their babies insects and especially caterpillars because they are soft and full of fat and protein. So…
- As tempting as it may be to rake your gardens clean, leave the fallen leaves between your shrubs or in your flower beds. They will break down to help those plants, and birds may dig around them to find food for their youngsters.
- Until the temperatures reach over 50 consistently (high temperatures), leave at least the bottom 15-18” of the stems in place. Some insects and insect larvae overwinter there, and birds know it. They may dig into the stems to find them. Once it gets warm enough, those will emerge from the stems and you can remove them permanently, or just leave them and have the new plants grow up around them and let them decay naturally. And, of course, enjoy them and the color and sound they bring to your yard. It’s a magical time of year.