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Winter is beginning to overstay its welcome. The barren landscape at this time of year in Nova Scotia can seem so void of life. However, with just a fistful of sunflower seeds, you can liven things up by attracting a variety of birds to your backyard.  You never know who’s going to fly in for a nibble.

Blue jay fluffing its feathers to stay warm

Blue jays, chickadees, finches, nuthatches and mourning doves are all potential visitors at this time of year.  Despite the February cold, I’ve often noticed several species of birds waiting nearby for their turn at the feeder.

Mourning dove patiently waits for its turn at the feeder

The black oil seeds are easier for birds to crack open than the thicker-shelled striped ones and provide more nutrition for their weight. All you need is a fistful. If you put out too much at a time, it may not be eaten and get moldy or attract rodents.  A fancy bird feeder isn’t necessary.  Just a flat surface that is easily cleaned is ideal.

Black oil sunflower seeds are also a favorite of red squirrels.  If you don’t want them to get the lion’s share,  you might want to put seeds out for the birds before mid-morning when the squirrels begin to make their rounds.

Finch eating sunflower seed

Some of the birds you attract to your feeder in late winter may decide to nest nearby come spring.  In the meantime, you never know who’ll show up to take advantage of your hospitality and add some color to your backyard landscape.

Ring-necked pheasant looking for breakfast

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