Today kicks off the 2015 Great Backyard Bird Count. Want to join? It’s definitely not too late to add your backyard (or front yard — go crazy!) to the project. Just register and then submit your observations to the Great Backyard Bird Count website.

I’m registered but haven’t uploaded any observations yet.

The count starts just as a dramatic cold front is arriving. You northerly folks may laugh, but it’s a rare thing for wind chills to dip below zero here. That’s what we have today. The cold that’s set to arrive Sunday will be even worse.

Not so inviting for bird watching (I might do my counting through a window!), and even less inviting for the birds, I imagine.

Winter Warmth for Birds in the Garden

Birds and other wild critters are pretty good at keeping themselves warm when these cold snaps hit. But we gardeners can still give them a hand. Here are a three easy ways to help the birds find some warmth during these coldest days of the year:

Old Christmas trees. Most people haul their Christmas trees out to the curb once the gifts are unwrapped and the New Years’ resolutions are set. Not me. I haul mine into the backyard, where I dump it somewhere out of the way and let it be for the rest of the winter. The needles generally last until near spring (or beyond), offering the birds a nice windbreak.

Brush piles. Same concept as the Christmas trees. Winter storms around here are notorious for bringing down branches and tree limbs. On nice-weather days, I’ll walk the yard and gather up the latest winter-blown tree debris. I toss it all in a heap in the backyard, where I leave it until spring. It’ll eventually be used as fuel for my firepit. Until then, it offers another safe haven from the wind for the birds.

Bird houses. They aren’t just for eggs and babies! Leave your bird houses up all winter, and many small birds will take advantage of them for nighttime sleeping. Just be sure to clean out any old nest debris before the start of the new nesting season (often as early as late February or early March).

Check back tomorrow for more updates about welcoming birds into our gardens.

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