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.

Eastern Red Cedar trees

       Eastern Red Cedar trees


2 thoughts on “DON’T FORGET COVER!

  1. Great post, Terry. Our yard in Macon has some shrubs around the house, azaleas and sasanquas. Also a few cherry trees with the back yard having tall pines. What really brings the birds into the deck and house is a huge hedge of elaeagnus with some privet mixed in. I know these are not great shrubs and spread some, but they make a wonderful place for many birds. They were the home of the orioles that we had. Also some huge crape myrtles. Without these there would not be much cover close to us. Our far back yard has lots of tall trees with wisteria, etc., as is common in much of Macon.

    We also have a sweet gum that is slowly dying. The woodpeckers love it. All such fun. The hedge really belongs to the vacant house next door. We will offer to help maintain it should the house sell. It is essential to our bird watching.


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