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Central Midwest Gardening: Feed Your Midwestern Birds

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Hang up a bird feeder and birds will flock to your garden. Plant trees, shrubs and flowers, and they'll keep you company year-round.

I feed the birds all year round.
Birdseed lasts when it's kept in a small galvanized garbage can on the porch.

I really love cardinals, but it's pretty hard to attract only one species of bird to your garden. Sprinkle a handful of sunflower seeds on a feeding platform for the cardinals, and when they check in for their snack, other fine-feathered customers come along too, crowding them at the bar.

Hang up a feeder full of thistle seeds and sunflower chips for the goldfinches, and word gets around: Chickadees and downy woodpeckers show up along with flocks of finches.

That's the way I like it: watching curious nuthatches or hummingbirds or little wrens in the garden is even more fun when you have a chance to watch them in company.

My house specialty: nut and fruit blend and safflower seeds.

I grow salvia and bee balm for the hummingbirds, and hang up nectar feeders for them too. My suet feeder attracts woodpeckers, but the wrens also take a keen interest in it, and a bright-red cardinal has figured out how to hold on to the wire mesh and take a few bites. I keep a pair of binoculars at my desk so I won't miss a thing.

I always hear the blue jays calling from the branches of the oak tree in my backyard before I see them at the feeder: They're telling me they're on the way. I know when I see a chickadee that tufted titmice are not far behind: They're birds of a feather.

Birds love coneflower seeds too.

There's plenty for the birds to eat in my garden. Insects are especially important in nesting season, and I know my organic garden provides lots of good bugs for birds. Worms in the compost pile feed the robins as do seeds and berries in the flowerbeds, and a steady supply of birdseed at the feeders all year round.

My garden has great nesting spots in twiggy shrubs and small trees, shelter in the evergreens, and a popular birdbath. It makes me feel good that the birds enjoy the garden as much as I do. Working in the garden wouldn't be as much fun without them.

I never really know who will show up. One year a pheasant stopped by; he strutted around the garden for a while and then disappeared.

I'm learning to identify some of the warblers that pass through from time to time. I watch for brown thrashers in spring, and juncos and cedar waxwings in winter. Even when I'm stuck at my desk, the birds keep things lively outside. Where would we be without the birds?