ESCANABA - Shiny and bright, cheerful and chirping, that describes the tree ornaments right out side our window.
At this time of the year, we spend a great deal of time and money to make our Christmas trees in our homes like festive and beautiful. Mother Nature takes care to dress the trees outside with frost and snow.
We can help beautify our firs, pines, apple trees and rosebushes by feeding the winter birds in the backyard.
Karen Wils photos
My helper fills the bird feeder while a chick-a-dee waits.
Common redpolls enjoy sunflower seeds on the ground.
Winter can be a little cold and colorless in Upper Michigan. A bright red cardinal sitting on an oak limb can sure add some pizzazz to the picture. With his head crest fluffed up high and his loud voice sharp and clear, a blue jay in a balsam can put some excitement in your backyard.
By feeding the winter birds, we get free (or for the price of a bag of sunflower seeds) entertainment. We also get pretty, festive trees.
From the birdfeeder to the cedar hedge, over and over again the chick-a-dee flies. His peaceful little peeps spread contentment outside of the kitchen window.
On a dark, grey day just before the snow begins to fall, a flock of evening grosbeaks gather in the maple tree alongside of the house. Like a yellow ray of sunshine, these birds descend down upon the feeder. They are hearty eaters and their happiness fills the front yard.
On cold winter mornings when it's hard to get going, a good cup of coffee and the sound of goldfinches calling to each other to eat breakfast at your feeder can be an eye opener.
To get some of these "real live" bird shaped tree ornaments in your yard, is simple. It doesn't have to be expensive or time consuming either.
Winter birds come in two types. The first type is ground feeders. They like to eat seeds, crumbs and fruit right off the ground.
The second type of winged visitors like to eat off a raised platform. They are the ones that come in for a landing right onto your birdfeeder.
Both types, after they have eaten or snatched a seed, need to have cover to rest or roost in. That's were your trees or shrubbery come in. Birds need to sit in them for thermal protection and to stay away from predators.
Sunflower seeds are the favorite by most all of our winter birds. Even though they are a bit pricey this year, buy a small bag and ration them out. You can mix the sunflowers with other cheaper seeds, too.
Don't forget to save your own pumpkin and squash seeds, popcorn kernels, bread crusts, peanut butter crackers, and leftover fruit to give to the birds.
Even a small homemade birdfeeder from a recycled container can bring in lots of birds to be ornaments for your outside trees.
Nature lovers young and not-so-young, will like Christmas gifts for the birds. Bird identification books, thistle seed, feeder tubes and suet and seed cakes are always appreciated by humans and feathered friends.
A partridge in a pear tree is nice, but a Canada jay in a blue spruce tree is even more picturesque. Decorate your trees with birds and have a chirpy, cheery winter.
Karen (Rose) Wils is a lifelong resident of north Escanaba. Her folksy columns are published weekly in Lifestyles.