HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- If you are a first time bird feeder or even a seasoned person who loves to feed birds, this year it is essential to keep the feeders full.
The drought has left its mark on plants that provide food for birds. Remember, however, once you start feeding the birds, you need to keep it going all winter long because your feathered friends will depend on you for a full dinner table.
Before birds take advantage of your feeders, they need to feel secure in the area, which can be provided by the twigs and branches of trees and shrubs.
If you find that your feeder is not being visited as frequently as you would like, consider planting a variety of shrubs on your property. Plants close to your feeder will also help reduce the time birds need to move from their cover to the food.
Plants with a dense habit of growth will probably offer the best cover to the birds. You don't have to redesign your whole landscape to attract birds. Adding just a few plants will be an effective first move. A simple plant grouping along the side of the house, off the corner of he patio or along the property line will work. If you want to have additional privacy between you and other property, border plantings would benefit both you and your bird population.
One last comment that relates to cats around your bird feeders: in Wisconsin alone, according to a survey several years ago, between 20 and 100 million birds were killed by rural cats. Song birds were approximately 35% of rural cats' diet in Wisconsin that year. Try to keep your cats inside or at least away from the bird feeders all winter long while the birds depend on your hand outs. If confinement is impossible, at least allow the cats to roam at night when the birds are less vulnerable.