Winter is the perfect time to take notice of how many magnificent birds spend the winter here in Iowa. Chickadees, nuthatches, goldfinches, cardinals, jays, and titmice are all typical visitors to Bettendorf backyards. It's also not unheard of to spot hairy and red-headed woodpeckers and even the occasional Northern Flicker. Common redpolls, grossbeaks, pine siskins, and cedar waxwings sometimes make their way through the state as well. Bald eagles love to hang out along the Mighty Mississippi near the locks and dams where open water makes fishing easy.
In February, keep your ears alert in the evenings to hear the hoots of Great Horned owls as they begin courting! You can easily attract many of these local birds to your backyard! Here's our quick guide to backyard birding in Bettendorf.
Creating a Bird-Friendly Yard
If you set up a bird feeding station, you'll be able to attract and enjoy many different kinds of birds from behind your window! A bustling bird feeding station should feature a variety of bird feeders, 2-3 different kinds of birdseed, and a water source. The station should be placed in a sheltered location that is near enough to some shrubs and trees where the birds can take shelter.
Which Seed Do You Need?
We have a variety of feeders at our garden center, from some of the top brands like No-No, Nature's Way, Droll Yankee, and more. Chickadees, finches, and redpolls tend to prefer the tube feeders with perches, or hopper feeders with a roof overhead. Nuthatches and woodpeckers like to hang on the sides of peanut or thistle tube feeders. Nuthatches tend to hang out upside down on feeders. They also like to nibble on suet cakes.
Larger birds, like blue jays, prefer large open-platform feeders. There are a few different types of platform feeders available. There are some that hang from tree branches or hooks, and some that stand on "legs" on the ground. The standing ones tend to be a bit more stable, and are less likely to tip and spill seed all over the ground—though birds of all sizes tend to throw a fair bit on the ground anyway. It works out, however, because ground-feeding birds tend to clean up the mess!
We carry a wide variety of birdseed at our location in Bettendorf, including the complete line of Wild Delight bird seeds. They have all sorts of different mixes designed for specific types of birds. We also carry C&S High Energy Suet for your woodpeckers. Our favorite, however, is our own brand of birdseed. Wallace's Black Oil Sunflower Seeds are available in 30lb bags, and Wallace's Red Bird Seed is available in 20lb bags. Both of these choices are popular with our local birds, and they're quite affordable too.
If you've got deer or squirrel problems, we also carry Fire Mix. Fire Mix is a product made with cayenne and chili that you can mix with your birdseed. The birds don't seem to notice, but the squirrels and deer don't like the heat! You can simply mix your birdseed with a little bit of vegetable oil to coat the seeds, then sprinkle in the Fire Mix and shake or stir until the coating is distributed evenly before adding it to your feeders.
Offering Water in the Winter
The last important consideration for attracting winter birds is providing access to water. You don't want to be running out every few hours to melt the ice in a birdbath on the coldest days of the year. We have a few different bird bath de-icers available that can help you, and those thirsty birds, avoid this problem. A birdbath de-icer is simply a small disk that you plug into an outdoor extension cord and set into your birdbath. It keeps the water temperature just warm enough not to freeze.
If you're ready to start enjoying the diverse variety of birds that spend the winters in Iowa, stop by our garden center and contact us today. We'll help you get set up to attract as many types of birds as you can, allowing you to help your feathered friends survive the winter—while you enjoy the show!