One of the things that you will find that I often mention in this blog is that all wildlife need food, water, and cover to survive. However, often seems we homeowners tend to overlook the importance of cover. This is unfortunate as an argument can be made that it is perhaps the most important element of all. Perhaps this is so because many folks do not understand what constitutes cover.
As far a backyard birds are concerned, cover refers to places where animals can find shelter from harsh weather, escape from predators, nest, feed, and roost.
At this time of year, providing backyard birds with winter cover is extremely important.
In winter, birds must routinely cope with low temperatures (often subfreezing), bitter winds, rain, ice, and snow. The need for this type of cover is especially acute at night when they go to roost. As such, birds simply cannot survive without areas where they can escape the ravages of the harshest season of the year.
Trees and shrubs that do not lose their leaves in winter provide many birds with a safe refuge during these trying times. All of these cover plants have tick foliage. Two native woody plants that best provide birds with this invaluable type of cover are wax myrtle and eastern red cedar. Both plants are hardy and easy to grow.
With that in mind, if you want to make sure that your feathered neighbors have places to roost on frigid winter nights, as well as throughout the rest of the year, make sure your have provided them with plants that are blanketed with thick foliage.
If you are going address this need with shrubs, plant them in bunches—don’t set out a leafy shrub as a standalone plant. Birds seem to prefer large patches of cover.
If you adopt this simple suggestion, you might be pleasantly surprised just how many birds will benefit from your thoughtfulness.