Advertisement

Polly Want a Cracker with That Suet?


When food is scarce, our little feathered friends make a beeline for the feeders. Most of the birds wear drab colors — a protective camouflage — this time of year. Goldfinches, for example, shed their bright yellow plumage in late fall, and by winter, they blend in with the drab tan and grey of tree bark and stems. Others, like blue jays and cardinals, are particularly colorful against snow-covered branches. However, “If you thought cardinals were impressive, check this out,” says gardener Jan Lord of Midlothian. In past year, her backyard feeders have attracted a few monk parakeets each winter, but this week, her backyard has become a mini-Margaritaville for these tropical-looking birds. “There were at least 11 or 12 of them at the feeders but there were more in the trees. They seem to like the suet.” She emailed the photos to local researchers who were unaware that the birds were attracted to suet.

Although they hail from South America, monk parakeets have managed to adapt to Chicago winters for more than four decades. They were first spotted in Chicago about 1973. Unlike the fluid and lyrical songs sung by some of our beautiful native songsters, monk parakeets let forth high-pitched screams. They’re generally found in Chicago’s Hyde Park where their nests — made from sticks—can be several feet wide. They’ve been spotted in many suburbs as well. You can see a distribution map here.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Whether you live in the city, suburbs or a more rural spot, there are plenty of hungry birds that would love to dine at a feeder in your garden. For tips on winter bird feeding, check out the National Bird-Feeding Society’s website. Happy Birdwatching.

categories

Espoma Advertisement

Chicagoland Gardening Advertisement

popular

Article Thumbnail
Columns
Attack of the Killer Asparagus

I had one of those horticultural dreams the other night. You know what I’m talking about. The ones where you’re being ...


Article Thumbnail
Blog
Another Good Garden Book for Winter

Does your garden wear the “layered look?” “Garden layers are made up of a variety of plants, some with complementary or ...


Article Thumbnail
Columns
A Bit about Bees

Growing bee-friendly plants is one way to help increase the bee population. Another way is to actually raise bees.


Article Thumbnail
Columns
Pathogens on Parade

Those of you who are regular readers of this column are no doubt already aware that actual horticultural content is not my ...


Article Thumbnail
Columns
Take A Hint. Or Not.

One of the great things about being a columnist is that when you run out of ideas you can steal them from other people.


questions

I want to raise the level of my lawn as much as 2 feet in places. I now have a large quantity of somewhat composted wood chips and I am wondering if I can use them as fill to raise the ground level and provide a good soil in which to sow a lawn.

I thought that purple coneflowers were insect proof, but now I see some aphids at the bud and tiny flies. What is wrong?

I have a hoya houseplant that has been growing happily for eight years. It had flowers when I received it, but it hasn’t bloomed since. What am I doing wrong? Can I get it to flower?

ChicagolandGardening Advertisement