Words On Birds by Steve Grinley

Holiday Gifts Can Bring Us Closer to Birds and Nature
November 28, 2009
By Steve Grinley

     With this being the busiest shopping weekend of the year, I offer you, once again, some gift suggestions for the bird lovers on your holiday list. Of course, for the non-birders on your list, now might be the perfect time to spark someone’s interest in birds and nature with an appropriate gift.

     A bird feeder is always a thoughtful 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 birds. Even if someone already has a bird feeder, they will always enjoy another one. There are all kinds of feeders available today – for sunflower, mixed seed, thistle, peanuts or suet. Some can be hung or pole mounted, while others can be suction-cupped right on the window. If squirrels are a problem, there are many new feeders on the market that are very effective at keeping squirrels off and allowing birds to feed. They provide some entertainment at thwarting squirrels, while providing food for our feathered friends.

     For those who have a feeder, a bird bath with built-in heater would draw additional birds to their backyard, especially on the frigid days ahead. Heated bird baths can sit on the ground, or be mounted on a deck railing for closer viewing. For those with a bird bath already, there are separate deicers that can be added to the bath to keep the water open all winter.

     Though spring seems so far away, bird houses make great gifts for the holidays, especially for those on your list that may want bird activity without the “chore” of filling a feeder. Bird houses come plain or fancy, and can often match the personality of the recipient. They can be decorative and used indoors to accent a room, but most are functional and can be placed outdoors for early spring nesting, or even winter roosting. There are also wood roosting boxes, and roosting pockets made of straw, sea grass and other materials, that birds will use for nighttime shelter during the winter. Wrens, chickadees, titmice, nuthatches and even bluebirds may use roosting pockets and bird houses for shelter during the winter nights and they may nest in them come spring.

     To help identify the birds in the backyard or in the field, identification guides are appreciated gifts. There are field guides for the beginner and also for the more experienced birder.. Identification guides become entertaining as a DVD for the TV or a CD-ROM for the computer, and CD’s are available for learning bird songs. If you know someone who is taking a trip soon, you may consider getting them a guide to the birds of that region or country, or a guide on where to find birds in that area. For general reading, there are several new books for both the serious and casual birder.

     You can bring nature closer to someone by giving them a new pair of binoculars or perhaps a spotting scope. You don’t have to spend a fortune to get a crisp, clear and close-up views of beautiful birds in the backyard, or of the birds out in the marshes of Plum Island. A quality pair of binoculars will enhance the experience of watching a cardinal at the feeder or a wild turkey scurrying through a field. For those who have binoculars, a spotting scope would provide a closer view of that snowy owl on a distant knoll or the eagles in the trees across the Merrimack River. The better the optics, the better the view, but decent quality binoculars and scopes are within most people’s budgets today.

     For general gifts, birds are popular motifs on jewelry, wallets, pocket books, and key rings. Shade-grown coffee and a bird mug will help preserve habitat in the tropics while the coffee drinker on your list enjoys some good Java. Mail box covers, door mats, or matted prints depicting birds are always appreciated gifts.

     A gift membership to a local conservation group would benefit the recipient and the organization alike. A Massachusetts Audubon Society membership allows someone you know to enjoy the many programs offered by Joppa Flats Education Center or any of the other Audubon sanctuaries throughout the state. Members receive numerous other benefits including discounts on programs and Audubon store purchases. Likewise, a gift membership to the Essex County Greenbelt Association, Trustees of Reservations, or Parker River Clean Water Association is a thoughtful gift that would be appreciated by anyone interested in local conservation.

     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.

Steve Grinley
Bird Watcher’s Supply & Gift
Route 1 Traffic Circle
194 Route 1
Newburyport, MA 01950
Celebrating 2
4 years of service to the birding community! 
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