Weather it is father’s day soon, or as the holiday season is upon us, … sigh… we begin the sometimes maddening task of finding gifts for our friends and loved ones. Perhaps this article can be of assistance – at least if you have bird lovers on your gift list. Let us examine a few popular birding items, including wild bird feeders and birdhouses, and explore why they make great holiday gifts.
The cold weather can make finding food a difficult chore for birds, so almost any well-made bird feeder will be a welcome addition to your backyard, as far as the birds are concerned. Platform bird feeders, which feature a large seed tray, will attract many ground-feeding birds. A tube-style bird feeder brings in smaller songbirds. Suet feeders provide much needed protein for wild birds. If the bird watcher you are buying for lacks one of these types of feeders, they will appreciate the new variety of birds that it will bring.
Another good idea is to find out if your bird watcher has a favorite type of bird, and purchase a feeder that is more likely to attract that species. For example, there are bird feeders that hold a block of suet, or beef fat, and are paddle-shaped. These are specially designed woodpecker feeders. The paddle extension at the bottom of the feeder gives woodpeckers a support for their tail, which is how they keep their balance. If you could combine the thrill of bird watching with the warmth and comfort of one’s own home, you would have a gift any fan of the birds would love. That must be why some clever person invented the window bird feeder. Some window feeders attach to glass by way of strong suction cups. Others are mountable in the window, providing a panoramic view of the feeding area.
It does not make sense to give someone a birdhouse over the holidays, because birds nest in the spring, right? That is not necessarily true. For instance, purple martins begin arriving back in the southern parts of the U.S. as early as January! Some other migratory birds do the same. Even in places where birds are not due to nest until later, it is not a bad idea to have the birdhouse in place early, as long as the birdhouse landlord is diligent in excluding some of the non-native pest species, like house sparrows and starlings. It is impossible to predict the exact day when birds will be scouting a particular area for nesting possibilities. Having the birdhouse in place before they arrive will send a clear signal to the house-hunting birds.
Of course, gift ideas for bird lovers are not limited to birdhouses and bird feeders. Many accessories or bird-related gifts will be greatly appreciated. Following are eight examples:
1) Heated birdbath – If your special bird watcher already has a birdbath, consider giving them a heater to add to it. Frozen water does birds no good. Some birdbath heaters are submersible, and some float harmlessly on the surface.
2) Binoculars – A good pair of binoculars is an essential tool for bird watchers. These days, it is possible to find a very good pair of birding binoculars for a low price. Backyard birders do not need a very high magnification, which is the factor that can drive the price higher.
3) Bird food – This one seems obvious. Birds do not frequent empty feeders. Make sure you know which type of food your bird lover prefers, whether it is a seed mixture, seeds and fruit, suet, or even insects and mealworms.
4) Bird guide book – There are books filled with tips for attracting various birds, or books that help with the identification of birds.
5) CD’s and DVD’s – Teaches bird watchers all manner of facts about birds, and allows them to see or hear their favorite flying critters anytime, without even leaving the house.
6) Sun hat – Even in winter, it is possible to get too much sun if one is out all day looking for birds. A good sun hat is a gift that will be cherished year-round.
7) Tickets to a birding event – Though a bit pricier, serious birders will love you for a gift like this. Many tours and events are scheduled throughout the year, giving bird watchers the opportunity to learn and share with like-minded individuals.
8) Birding kitsch and miscellany – This includes T-shirts, baseball caps, neckties, mousepads, coffee cups, ties, yard banners, framed pictures, and much more. Items like these, though you may not remember seeing any on your last trip to the mall, are very easy to find if you have an internet connection and the ability to type “bird related gifts” into a search box.
Weather considering birthday gifts, father’s day gifts, or during the stressful holiday season, take solace in the fact that bird watchers are easy to shop for. Any gift that enhances their enjoyment of the birds or that celebrates their love of birds will surely put smiles on their faces. In fact, if you are not already hooked by the fascinating pastime of backyard birding, maybe you should buy yourself a bird feeder, too. There really is no better time to get started. Happy birding!
By: Michael Rasco
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