Osmocote 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

popular

Article Thumbnail
Columns
Five Hundred Years and Counting

The age of exploration isn’t over. The hunt continues for new and better plants continues.


Article Thumbnail
Features
Poinsettia and Its Kin

They don’t look alike. Not even close. But kinfolk come in all shapes and sizes. True of people and true of plants.


Article Thumbnail
Columns
Behind the Curve (and losing ground)

I think I’m missing a gene. Okay, maybe two or three. This is the time of year when gardeners are told to dream, to curl up ...


Article Thumbnail
Columns
Gardening Session

Thank you, doctor, for agreeing to see me on such short notice.” “Not at all. My pleasure. I had a cancellation and it worked …


Article Thumbnail
Features
Perk Up with Pots

In our family, my sister Chris hosts Christmas and I host Easter. Among her many talents, Chris pulls out the stops when it …


questions

I dislike staking perennials. Is there anything I can do to avoid it?

What trends do you see in container plantings, such as type of pot, materials, sun or shade, foliage or flowers.

I have two 3-year-old rose of Sharon plants, about 20 feet apart. One blooms every year. The other plant forms about 100 buds and looks healthy, but it has not bloomed in the last two years. The buds are solidly closed and look as if they are rotting from the inside out. There does not seem to be any sign of insects on the plant. What is this problem?

ChicagolandGardening Advertisement