Words On Birds by Steve Grinley

Give a Gift of Nature This Holiday Season
November 29, 2014
By Steve Grinley

     We are in the midst of the busiest shopping weekend of the year. As I do every year around this time, I will share with you some of my holiday gift suggestions for the bird enthusiasts on your holiday shopping list. Almost everyone enjoys birds, whether they travel to find new birds or just appreciate the ones in their backyard. Others might just appreciate their soothing sounds or their vivid colors. Birds can also stimulate interest in nature for children, tearing them away, if only momentarily, from the electronic world.

     A bird feeder is a simple way to bring birds within reach. Even if someone has a bird feeder, they can always use another. The most popular ones today are the Squirrel Busters. They come in all sizes and price range, but they are the most effective feeders on the market for keeping squirrels at bay. The squirrel’s weight shuts off the food supply, frustrating them to the point of giving up. It allows those feeding the birds to enjoy their tranquility undisturbed by the banging on windows to scare off the squirrels.

     The latest tube feeders have been redesigned for easier cleaning. I like the Quick-Clean Feeders from Aspects that allow the bottom of the feeder to pop off with the simple push of a button. It makes it so much easier to keep the feeders clean thus making them healthier for the birds.

     If you want to keep it even more simple, a holiday bird seed wreath, ornament or bell can be just hung outside and enjoyed by the birds.

     For those that have enough feeders, a heated bird bath will draw more birds year ‘round. Even birds that don’t normally come to seed feeders will enjoy the availability of fresh, unfrozen water.

     For folks on your list that don’t want the task of filling a feeder, a bird house (a.k.a. nesting box) is relatively maintenance free – though cleaning them out at the end or beginning of the nesting season is advisable. Birds will also use bird houses in the winter to keep warm and get out of the elements, especially at night. Houses come in all shapes and sizes, from plain cedar to painted with copper or Verdi-gris roofs. Matching a bird house to someone’s personality can be fun.

     To help someone learn bird songs, there are many Bird Song CD’s to choose from. Even simpler is the new Identiflyer Lyric with song cards identifying the more common birds with the push of a button.. In one mode it plays just the song to test you. In the other mode, it plays the song, tells you its name, and gives you a phrase or description to help you remember the song or call.

     In addition to the many excellent field guides available to help identify birds, there are a couple of excellent books by local authors for those that just like to read about birds and the joy of watching birds. Groveland resident Doug Chickering’s Reflections on a Golden-winged Warbler is a collection of short stories and articles which pull you into the birding experience. Annette LeBlanc Cate’s Look-Up! Birdwatching in Your Own Backyard is a fun book for all ages, with it’s cartoon-like presentation and great sense of humor will keep you smiling while you learn about all kinds of things about birds.

     For the person who is ready to get closer to birds, a pair of binoculars of a spotting scope makes a great gift! Today’s binoculars are lighter and brighter and come in all price ranges. And most optics are versatile enough to be used for sporting boating or just sight—seeing as well!

     If you want to give a gift that also helps the birds, how about a bag of Birds & Beans shade-grown coffee and a coffee mug with birds on it. 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.

     Then there are a wide array of gifts with bird motif’s on them. Everything from Bird Calendars and Holiday cards, and bird jewelry, to bird T-shirts and night shirts, bird socks, bird hats and, yes, bird boxers. Towels and pot holders, thermometers, wind chimes and wind bells, cloth gift bags for baked goods or wine, notepads and wall decorations are all available with someone’s favorite cardinal, loon, or chickadee imprinted on it. 

     For children, there are several new games, including Bird Bingo and Flippin’ Birds, as well as toy binoculars and scopes, singing and non-singing plush birds, birds pens and puzzles, and a number of great new bird books.

     Keep nature in this year’s holidays and choose a gift that will introduce someone to birds, or will further someone’s interest in the nature around us.

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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