Words On Birds by Steve Grinley
Holiday Gift Suggestions for Bird Lovers
November 18, 2022
By Steve Grinley
It is hard to believe that Thanksgiving is next week, followed by Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. Though the “big guys” have already bombarded us with holiday advertisements and sales we encourage you to “shop small” again this holiday season. Support your local businesses, avoid the crowds at the big box store and malls, and stop staring at your computers. Area small businesses continually source more products locally and help support local crafts people and small manufacturers closer to home. So with the holiday shopping season upon us, it is time for my annual gift suggestions for the bird lovers on your holiday list:
Bird feeders always makes great gift. A bird feeder can provide hours of entertainment for the young and old, and it is a great way to introduce most anyone to nature. Even if someone already has a bird feeder, they can always enjoy another one. Thinking ahead for spring, there are even specific feeders for hummingbirds, bluebirds, and orioles.
There are all kinds of seed and suet feeders available today – decorative and functional. Some can be hung, some come with poles, while others can be mounted right on (or in) the window. Many of the traditional wood feeders now come in longer lasting, easier to clean poly board. If squirrels are a problem, there are many high quality feeders on the market that are very effective at keeping squirrels off, allowing only birds to feed. Most feeders today are designed for easy filling and easy cleaning.
Though spring seems far away, bird houses make super gifts for those that want bird activity without the “chore” of filling a feeder. Birds will nest in spring and summer and they may also use houses in winter for roosting, getting out of the cold and inclement weather at night. Screech owls love to roost in boxes and are a thrill for the hosting family to se the owl sunning itself in the hole during the day!
There are also cute roosting pockets made of straw, sea grass and other materials, that birds will use for nighttime roosting. Wrens, chickadees, titmice, nuthatches and other birds will use roosting pockets and roosting boxes and houses, and then nest in them come spring.
If you wish to give a gift that helps birds, how about a bag of Birds & Beans shade-grown coffee. This delicious coffee is grown on farms in Central and South America that don’t clear cut their trees, but leave them for many of our neotropical migrants, such as warblers, orioles, scarlet tanagers and thrushes to enjoy during our winter. A bag of coffee coupled with a mug featuring their favorite bird (or squirrel) makes a great gift!
Perhaps it is time to bring nature closer by gifting a new pair of binoculars or a spotting scope. Optics have improved so much in recent years that you don’t need to spend a fortune to get a crisp, clear view of beautiful birds in the backyard or the ones in the marshes of Plum Island. Today’s binoculars will enhance the experience of watching a cardinal at the feeder or a red-tailed hawk soaring overhead. For those that have good binoculars, a spotting scope would provide a closer view of that snowy owl on a distant dune or an eagle in the trees across the Merrimack River. The better the optics, the better the view, but good quality binoculars and scopes are within everyone’s budget today.
To help identify the birds, identification guides are appreciated gifts. One can always use another field guide. Peterson, Sibley, Stokes and the National Geographic guides are the most popular. Even simple laminated foldouts of backyard birds, ducks, raptors, or coastal birds make great stocking stuffers.
To help identify songs, there are still CD’s available (if you still have a CD player.) The ever popular Bird Songs books have been re-released with built in players that play the songs of the birds detailed in each of its pages. The children’s versions of these books are also back in print.
For general reading, local birder Doug Chickering’s Reflections on a Golden-winged Warbler brings you into the local birding scene. Any of Pete Dunne’s stories of birds or birding are both informative and entertaining. New England author Sy Montgomery has a new book, The Hawk’s Way, and her Hummingbirds’ Gift continues to be popular. For children, classics like Owl Babies or Make Way for Ducklings are always popular, and the more recent Bird Love and On Bird Hill by Massachusetts author Jane Yolens are always well received.
For more general gifts, there are calendars, ornaments, notecards, kitchen towels and potholders, t-shirts, hats and socks, key rings, wallets, earrings and pins – all with motifs of favorite birds. Bird jig-saw puzzles come in all shapes and sizes, from easy to difficult. Charley Harper puzzles are particularly popular. Children enjoy bird bingo and memory games and kits to build bird house and feeders.
Any gift that helps someone enjoy birds and nature is one that will surely be appreciated this holiday season and, likely, for years to come.