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Give the gift of nature this Christmas

By Heidi Reams, Floyd County Conservation Naturalist

‘Tis the gift giving season. A time to wrap beautiful boxes for placement under the tree.

This year think of giving “outside” of the box. Give the gift of nature or to nature.

The gift of a membership to a local conservation organization is a great way to give to the

Local funds are used in efforts to maintain or create wildlife habitats. Many organizations will send out monthly or quarterly newsletters to keep members up to date on their

In our area, these groups would be the Izaak Walton League, Pheasants Forever, Wild
Turkey Federation and the Fossil and Prairie Conservation Foundation.

Once a member there are benefits such as events/banquets and volunteer days that can keep individuals connected to the local environment.

Give a gift to nature in the form of feeding the birds or other animals. Various types bird feeders that can bring wildlife up close.

Depending on the type of birds you want to attract will determine the feeder choice.

Sunflower (black oil and striped) and safflowers will attract Northern Cardinals, Blue Jays, Black Capped Chickadees, Nuthatches and Tufted Titmice.

There are specialized sunflower seed feeders. These seeds will leave a mess around the feeder so please choose the feeder location carefully.

Niger (thistle) seed is a great seed to attract Goldfinches. They are typically sack type feeders. A great winter feed for its high energy nutritional source is suet.

Suet feeders can be simple bags or more complex wooden structures with a round “plug” of suet. Suet will attract Chickadees, Woodpeckers and Nuthatches. When thinking of feeding the birds, don’t forget the water as well.

There are a variety of heaters to keep the water from freezing. Bird feeders may also attract other animals as well.

Spilt seed may attract rabbits and squirrels to your yard. Want to attract squirrels? There are squirrel feeders or peanut feeders for both your furry and feathered friends.

When placing feeders in your yard, group feeders to make it easier to fill, place in a location out of the wind, and keep feeders at least 10 feet from dense cover to deter predators.

Continue the giving of nature into spring through guide books, journals or seed packets. Guide books and nature books can help with knowledge and bring the warmth of the sun inside on a cold winters day.

Don’t be intimidated by large guide books with species you may not typically see. Select one for your area or interest. Story books are also a great way to keep your child’s
interest in nature “awake” this winter.

Seed packets extend the giving though the year as the seeds grow. As the gifts wait under the tree, although they may be in a box, they will hopefully open up to a “natural” appreciation.